Scotland in Europe Update: 8th March 2019

With little of note happening on the Brexit front in Brussels this week, I was privileged to be in the gallery at Holyrood on Tuesday to watch the EU debate. It was an historic day because it was the first-ever joint motion presented in the name of almost all the parties in our national Parliament and also the National Assembly for Wales, the Senedd. Scotland’s SNP government and the Welsh Labour government have been working hand in glove on Brexit since the stramash was visited upon us, and it is testament to our outstanding Scotland in Europe Minister – Michael Russell – that we have such a strong joint position.

The message was clear: Brexit will be damaging and should be put back to the people, while a no-deal Brexit is unthinkable and must be taken of the table. The only exception to the unity we saw was from the Tories. They know that Brexit is damaging and against the clearly expressed wishes of the Scottish electorate, but because the UK voted to Leave Scotland must apparently follow. The unity of the UK comes above all else and instead of seeking compromise they have doubled down on the base. They’re barely speaking for 20% of the Scottish population, and alienating the rest.

They tried to portray the SNP as seeking grievance and using Brexit as a pretext for an independence referendum and I’ll confess I take personal offence at this. I’ve sat through the countless meetings where we’ve had to bite on hard reality – we’re not independent and we can’t wish Brexit away – and thrash out genuine compromises about how we could salvage the maximum possible. I’ve written extensively in the Scottish and other European media about how Brexit is absolutely not about independence. All this is ignored by a group of people so desperate to deflect attention from their own disaster.

Overall though the debate was a good one. I’m biased but the SNP and Greens were all outstanding. The Labour speeches were good on content as were the Liberals. It was a good day for Scotland’s democracy and if you want to read more of my thoughts, then you can in my National column:

There’s a place for knockabout and drama, but I think in these days we’re living, where at Westminster we’ve seen the death of shame and the death of reason, folk want to know that their politicians are at their posts and working hard. The MSPs rose to it. The coming weeks are going to be tough, but I came out of the Holyrood debate a lot more hopeful for Scotland’s future than when I went in.



I get to start this week with some brilliant news. The European Parliament will keep its Scotland Office after Brexit.

If you followed this week’s debate about no-deal it is worth looking at the Scottish government’s assessment of the implication of a no-deal Brexit for Scotland.

STV has produced some heart-breaking reporting into the plight of EU citizens in Scotland.

The UK government has launched a ‘Stronger Towns Fund’ which will offer £1bn to its struggling communities. This sounds lovely until you realise that what it is replacing is EU regional and cohesion funding worth ten times more (around €13bn). So far Scotland has not been promised any of this.

The Finance and Constitution Committee of the Scottish Parliament has put out a call for evidence on EU Structural Funding Priorities in Scotland, post-Brexit

The Brexit secretary has announced that only 43 of the 161 essential agreements that the EU has will be rolled over post Brexit.

DEXEU minister Steve Barclay has written to the EU now that the Costa amendment designed to protect EU citizens’ rights was passed. To be clear, the minister responsible for this amendment was forced to resign and the UK could have have done far more to safeguard EU citizens. This is a shameless move designed to distract from their failings.

Liam Fox has said that a deal with the US will involve farming trade-offs. What he means is that the UK will be forced to take low-grade US imports like chlorinated chicken and destroy its own farming industry. Only the EU is big enough to hold its own against the US in a trade negotiation.

Theresa May has said she will introduce tariffs on agricultural goods in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Overall tariffs will be slashed, meaning many businesses will not be able to survive.

Private sector growth has stagnated due to Brexit concerns, according to the CBI.

The Construction sector also went into decline, according the HS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Total Activity Index.

Michael Russell wrote an excellent piece on how Scotland can escape Brexit.

BMW have said that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Minis may no longer be made in the UK.

Toyota has voiced similar concerns.