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.
This week two things took place that will define the course of Brexit for the next few years. The first, which received some (though not enough) coverage, was that all three devolved parliaments rejected the EU Withdrawal Bill. This is unprecedented and momentous.
Three out of the four parliaments in these islands now oppose the deal and for the UK government to continue to ignore that reality and simply overrule them demonstrates how broken the Westminster system is. You can read the UK government’s letter to Mike Russell confirming this here:
Far less coverage has been given to the work of the European Commission’s UK Task Force publications. Last week a flurry of these emerged followed by another tranche this week on Architecture and the legal nature of UK participation in Union programmes ec.europa.eu/..., Mobility of persons ec.europa.eu/..., the partnership ec.europa.eu/... and Governance ec.europa.eu/....Read more
This week was our last in Strasbourg (at least for the time being). While it’s been a tough week there were a number of key votes, not least on the European Green Deal where we helped to secure crucial amendments on the role of the European Investment Bank in the Green Deal, and underlined the need for binding national targets for both renewables and energy efficiency. Europe is busy getting on with tackling the issues that matter as we are being dragged out of the door against the people of Scotland’s democratically expressed wishes to remain inside the EU.
The Parliament also stood up for EU citizens and passed an important opinion on the UK Government’s actions. In particular we are worried about the application-based approach used in the UK EU Settlement Scheme, the absence of physical proof for successful applicants, and its accessibility. The Parliament will continue to play a role in supporting EU 27 nationals after the UK has left the EU, and you can read more about the opinion here:
And see Christian’s speech here:
Happy New Year! Heather Anderson arrived at the Parliament this week to replace former MEP Alyn Smith and received a warm welcome. Aileen, Christian and Heather will continue to stand up for Scotland and make sure that the legacy of our time here is that when Scotland returns as an independent country, the EU is ready for us.
The focus in London has been on the fact that the Prime Minister finally passed the Withdrawal Agreement Bill on to the House of Lords. A tragic step (though unsurprising after the UK election result) and one made worse as MPs voted down various amendments to protect refugees, EU27 citizens and the UK’s participation in Erasmus. None of these defeats mean the fight is over, but they do show that the UK government has the majority to push through a very hard brexit if it wants.Read more
This week the Scottish Government laid out the constitutional and democratic case for Scotland being able to choose its own future. The UK is a voluntary association of nations and as such it cannot be in the interest of any part for our right to choose our future to be conditional, or time limited, or a one-off.
The crux of this is simple: democracy is a process. It did not stop in 2014, nor in 2016. The SNP have now won several concurrent elections on manifestos which pledged to give the Scottish people the choice to protect Scotland’s place in Europe, be it through a people’s vote or an independence referendum.
That is not to claim that everybody who voted SNP voted for independence, they clearly didn’t. However, many voted to stop a Brexit which will now take place. The ‘nation of equals’ UK we were promised in 2014 is going to crumble around us. The Tories will have free reign to do as they please, and though the SNP and Scottish Government will continue to fight them, the reality is that, under the flawed UK constitution, if Prime Minister Johnson wants it done, it will be done.
After three and half years of chaos, ineptitude and the dawning realisation that Brexit will be neither what was promised, nor will it be finished any time soon, the people of the UK still elected a Tory government.
That means that the SNP’s MEPs will come back to Scotland soon, for the last time as part of the UK.
As the fog clears on the morning after the night before, there is a twinkle of good news for Scotland within the devasting news from the rest of the UK. The SNP – a pro-Remain party – won 48 out of the 59 seats in Scotland.
From Scotland, we have sent a very clear message – we don't want a Boris Johnson government and we don't want to leave the EU.
Alyn has been elected as Member of the Westminster Parliament for beautiful Stirling, the heart of Scotland. He would like to thank all of his activists and supporters, and everyone who voted for him. He’ll not let you down as he takes his years of European experience to Westminster. facebook.com/...Read more
Next week the most important general election for as long as any of us can remember will take place. Its outcome will define Scotland and the UK for years to come. For all the noise, misinformation and – at times shrill – arguments the consequences of this election are refreshingly simple.
If Boris Johnson and the Tories get a majority across the UK then Scotland will be dragged out of the EU against its will by the end of January. If they don’t then there will be another extension and we won’t.
It is that simple.
Another Strasbourg week is done and dusted, and your MEPs have been hard at work representing Scotland in Europe. As Alyn said in his latest National column, if you’re doing Strasbourg properly, you rarely have any free time at all between votes, briefings and meetings, so there’s plenty to report this week!
Aileen got us off to a flying start with her speech during the debate on climate change, calling for the European Parliament to not only declare a climate emergency but also to make sure nobody is left behind in the transition. "We need all countries across the EU and beyond to step up to the plate and to come to Glasgow next year with serious climate commitments." As many of you will remember, Aileen was our Climate Change Minister in the Scottish Government before she was an MEP, and earlier this year represented the European Parliament at the UN Climate Action Summit. We voted to support the Parliament declaring a climate emergency in Europe and now we need to see bolder climate action taken.
Christian spoke for us in the debate on ‘Interference from other countries in our democracies and elections’, noting that “Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed last week that he had never seen any evidence of Russian interference in UK democratic processes. However, in December 2017, the then UK Foreign Secretary – Boris Johnson – said that he had seen evidence of Russian interference in UK democratic processes. Which Boris Johnson is telling the truth?” An evergreen question indeed.
Manifestos are being launched and the General Election campaign is starting to take some shape. It is clear that the UK and Scotland are going to have to make a choice between remain and leave. The stakes could not be higher.
Christian has been standing up for Scottish fisherman by looking beyond the immediate noise of the campaign. Irrespective of who wins, the UK will have to take part in this December’s Fisheries Council and these talks are crucial. The scientific advice on certain key stocks is concerning and it is imperative that the UK is represented by a fully focused negotiating team.Read more
Last night at 5pm the European Commission launched infringement proceedings against the UK, following its failure to name a candidate for EU Commissioner. The UK authorities have until Friday 22 November to respond.
In many ways this case epitomises the UK Government’s approach to Brexit. The UK could have appointed somebody, been a good European ally to our friends and neighbours and carried on with the business of a general election. Excuses have been offered that the appointment couldn’t be made during purdah when political activity is restricted, but the reality is we have known about this for a long time. In fact, we recall discussing it shortly after Aileen and Christian first arrived in Brussels as MEPs, which feels like a long time ago!