Scotland in Europe Update: 31st January 2020

Tonight, at eleven pm UK time/midnight Brussels time, the UK will leave the European Union. The time was set by the EU and accepted by the UK, a foreshadowing of what is to come. The UK will be a small isolated country trying to rebuild its entire trading network in one go under the shadow of Donald Trump. Despite our best efforts to save the UK from itself, we have failed.

The people of Scotland voted to Remain in the EU, and we have done everything we can to stop Brexit. Scotland elected a majority of pro-Remain MEPs last year, sent a majority of SNP politicians to Westminster last month, and has consistently voted against Brexit. Our Scottish Parliament has refused to consent to the Brexit deal. Since the UK government has totally ignored Scotland's Parliament and Government throughout this entire process, we will be leaving on Friday anyway.

Independence is now the only way for Scotland to be a normal European country. We really tried, but there are no more options left to explore.

Your SNP MEPs addressing Parliament for the final time

The message from the EU could not be clearer. On Wednesday morning senior MEPs joined the Friends of Scotland parliamentary group that will help us to maintain our voice in the European Parliament. Just hours later Aileen gave a heart-breaking final speech to her colleagues and the whole parliament stood to sing Auld Lang Syne before the SNP MEPs were piped out of the building.

Scotland will be missed, and we will be welcomed back. The years of work by current and former Scottish MEPs from across the political spectrum leaves behind a network of support which will be invaluable in the years to come.

On a more personal note this week has been tough for all of us here in Brussels. Since the EU referendum there have been 175 of these weekly bulletins (including today's) and we have sent nearly three million emails. During this time there have been five SNP MEPs, five Brexit dates, two General Elections and one European Parliament Election. For us and for the staff who work with us it has been quite a rollercoaster. We would like to thank all of the staff who have stuck with us through these most difficult and unpredictable times: Adam (who has edited this bulletin from the start), Ciarán, Clyn, Daniel, Fatima, Gavin, Kate, Lachie, Laura, Niall, Patrick and Zoe. We wish you all the best for the future.

The fight for Scotland’s EU membership is not over and we assure you, one day Scotland will return to the EU as an independent country. But until then, this is farewell.


Au Revoir,

Christian, Aileen, and Heather


PS: Alyn has of course been elected to Westminster to represent Stirling. He has been appointed SNP Shadow Foreign Secretary so will maintain a close interest in the ongoing issues of Brexit. He will maintain communication, please do refer to for more information and how to register for his emails. Under privacy rules this needs to be a new specific registration.



This week your SNP MEPs, Sheila Ritchie, Liberal Democrat MEP and Ben Macpherson, the Scottish Government’s Europe Minister launched the European Parliament Friends of Scotland Group.

Aileen gave an emotional final speech to the European Parliament in the Withdrawal Agreement debate. She said:

I am proud to have been a member of this Parliament of Europe’s citizens. I give you my word that Scotland’s Government will continue to protect the interests of all EU citizens who have chosen to make Scotland their home and have contributed to our society in so many important ways.

“When the moment comes for Scotland to rejoin the EU I hope this Parliament will welcome us in that same spirit of European solidarity and in the meantime, I hope very much that you will leave a light on for Scotland.”

The European Parliament accepted the deal with a heavy heart by 621 votes in favour, 49 against and 13 abstentions.

Following this debate MEPs from across the Parliament, the President of the Commission, and Council representative Nikolina Brnjac, all joined together to sing Auld Lang Syne.

You can watch your SNP MEPs being piped out of the Parliament in the BBC’s coverage here.

Shortly after the EU Council also accepted the deal.

Christian had an unbelievably busy schedule as he spoke to the media from across Europe to ensure everyone knows that Scotland is being dragged out of the EU against our will.

Heather was finally confirmed as a MEP this week, allowing her to vote against the Withdrawal Agreement as directed by the people of Scotland.

She then gave her maiden, and final, speech to the EU. It is a fantastic speech and received a great reception.

MEPs stood outside the Parliament and pledged to "leave a light on for Scotland" as requested by Alyn Smith all those months ago.

This morning Nicola Sturgeon gave a clear message of hope: “For those of us lucky to be part of the independence movement today we know the groundwork has been laid and we have it within our grasp now, not just to imagine a better future, but to achieve it. Now is the time to stay focused and resolute. It is time to build our strength to secure the right to choose and win Scotland’s independence.”

The flag of Europe will continue to fly outside Holyrood in recognition of Scotland’s remain vote and in solidarity with all the EU 27 Citizens for whom Scotland is home.

The Scottish Parliament has also voted in favour of another independence referendum.

The Irish Times view on Brexit day -"Britain’s great leap backwards” - is well worth a read.

Guy Verhofstadt has called for the future EU-UK relationship to be ambitious.

On a visit to Dublin, Michel Barnier praised the role of Ireland in the Brexit negotiations.

He also gave a speech about what will happen next at Queen's University Belfast, available to read here.

David Martin, former Labour MEP for Scotland, predicts with a heavy heart that the UK will not re-join the EU in his lifetime.

In the Scotsman, Alyn Smith, former SNP MEP for Scotland, wrote a column outlining the choice now facing the people of Scotland: between the EU and the UK.

The Guardian has a nice piece on the final week of the UK MEPs.

The UK government updated its travel guidelines for after the transition period. If anybody genuinely believes that this is over and done, they are in for a shock.

"Independence Day will expose Brexit as a ruse to free an imaginary nation" is the stark warning from Fintan O'Toole.

The Scottish Government put forward proposals to launch a Scottish Visa though the UK Government have rejected the scheme out of hand before even considering it.

The House of Commons Library have published a reading list of the various publications from the parliaments in the UK.

And the European Parliament have comprised a similar list from a Brussels perspective.

Finally, over the coming months, we will need pragmatism as well as dreams. If you want to think a little more about the challenges Scotland faces this piece from Kirsty Hughes is an excellent place to start contemplating.