Scotland in Europe Update 6th April 2017

This week saw the European Parliament formally vote on its position for negotiations with the UK following the triggering of Article 50.

Crucially, in recital N the Parliament notes that “a large number of United Kingdom citizens, including a majority in Northern Ireland and Scotland, voted to remain in the European Union”. The acknowledgement of Scotland’s remain vote shows a clear will in Brussels to engage with the conundrum we face as a Remain-voting nation within the UK.

Overall, the motion will be unsurprising to those of you who have received these updates for any length of time. Michel Barnier, the EU Chief Negotiator for Brexit, confirmed that the EU is “Not against the UK, but with the UK!” However, citizen’s rights and settling the terms of the UK’s withdrawal must come before any future trade deal.

That this is a shock to the UK Government is a measure of how detached they have become from the realities of international law.

Being there for the debate and vote was a challenging experience. As a Scottish European I’m heartbroken. Not for myself but for the people I serve and for future generations. Scotland will not be silent in this process as our rights are taken away by an administration we do not support, by a vote we clearly rejected, and a process that is demonstrably against our interests.

Ultimately, while being heartbroken, I’m also angry. I’m angry at this process. I’m angry at the way the UK is representing itself because it’s doing a bad thing badly. You can see my speech here:

David Martin, a Labour MEP for Scotland, also gave a very thoughtful speech highlighting the Scottish Government’s EU options paper:

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The full text that was agreed (and supported by the SNP) is here:

The SNP European Group response is available here:

The European Commission launched its Article 50 taskforce website. As you can see, the EU’s side of the Brexit negotiations will be open, transparent, methodological and calm. I await the UK Government’s equivalent.

Nicola Sturgeon plans to visit Bavaria with a business delegation as part of the Scottish Government’s efforts to work with our European neighbours.

In the event of a so called ‘hard Brexit’, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations supports a differentiated deal for Scotland within Europe

The claim that 'no deal is better than a bad deal' is unsubstantiated, according to the Exiting the European Union Committee of the House of Commons.

I was in Brussels the day Article 50 was triggered, and I’ve covered the experience here:

Swedish Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson reiterated that trade talks can only commence once the exit process is settled.

Remarkably, Michael Howard threatened Spain militarily over the future of Gibraltar.

Standard Life is considering a Dublin hub post-Brexit.

Gazprom has decided to review its London operations thanks to Brexit.

Concerns have been raised by Politico that an interim trade deal could damage UK services.

The EU and Australia concluded discussions on the scope of a potential bilateral free trade agreement. As the UK talks about deals, the EU is making them happen.

Though in fact long-standing policy, Spain has confirmed it would not oppose an independent Scotland joining the EU.

Over half of respondents UK-wide feel that “accepting the continued free movement of people for a few years after Brexit, as part of a transitional deal that eases the impact of the UK leaving the single market” is acceptable. Even UK-wide there is no mandate for driving the UK over the cliff edge. ICM Guardian Poll – April (1) 2017.

Up to 100,000 UK jobs are at risk if financial sector is forced to relocate because of Brexit.

Ryanair is looking to divert its growth away from Britain over the next two years due to fears over leaving the EU.

Professor Steve Peers has written a lengthy guide to the European Parliament’s Brexit position.

And finally, Guinness has revealed the problems that a hard border between the EU and Northern-Ireland could pose for them.