Saturday, 23 June 2018 06:05

Our Man in Europe

Dear Friends,

While the scheme announced this week to register EU nationals in the UK is superior to the system that exists for non-EEA nationals, it is clearly a long way short of what was promised by the Leave campaign.

To start with, nobody made clear that EU citizens who used iPhones would be treated differently to those who have Android phones! More seriously, I must admit I also had a shiver run down my spine when Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes promised “a proportionate response” for any citizens (including children) who fail to register in time. Since the UK Government is the only government in Europe to allow indefinite detention of migrants, this is not reassuring. The details are here:

As we find out more information, I’ll be sure to let you know more but for my part I wish to re-emphasise what I have said before: Scotland is your home and you are welcome here.

And as for the shenanigans in the Commons surrounding the Withdrawal Bill? There is little to be said. The Tory rebels again failed to rebel and the UK Government got its way. The will of the Scottish Parliament was ignored and poor legislation was rammed through.

Meanwhile, Ireland has been enjoying the solidarity which comes through membership of the EU as an independent state. Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, delivered a speech to the Oireachtas emphasising that "Ireland’s border is Europe’s border".

The EU 27 will stand united behind Ireland and support them, a fact the UK Government appears to still be struggling with.

Yours aye,


You can read Juncker’s statement on his visit to Ireland here.

Earlier in the week Taoiseach Leo Varadkar condemned the United Kingdom for its threats to renege on promises regarding the Irish border that it has already made during the Brexit negotiations.

At the weekend, Theresa May promised a ‘Brexit Dividend’ for the NHS. There is no such thing. There is no credible analysis from anywhere of increased government funds as a result of Brexit, so the promised extra funding will have to be paid for through increased taxation. Now that is a conversation I am willing to have but politicians must be honest about the trade-offs we face.

John Crace wrote an excellent piece in the Guardian entitled “A bad day for Grieve, the rebel Tory who forgot how to rebel.”

Meanwhile Labour MP Naz Shah was dragged from her hospital bed and forced to vote in a wheelchair in her pyjamas whilst being sick. The Westminster system is broken.

The EU have responded to the UK’s position on Police and Judicial matters, stating that the UK’s red line regarding jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice means that we cannot remain in the European Arrest Warrant. This is very worrying as police in Scotland rely on this and other systems provided by our EU membership on a daily basis.

You can read some comments from Michel Barnier emphasising this here:

David Martin, Labour MEP for Scotland, wrote a great piece explaining how the EU is now the undisputed global leader in open and fair trade.

A new Survation poll has revealed that more respondents prefer a ‘soft’ to a ‘hard’ Brexit (43% vs 37%) and that 48% of respondents support a referendum on the final deal, versus only 25% who oppose such a vote.

As the Withdrawal Bill made its way through the House of Commons, Brexit Minister Michael Russell gave a statement to the Scottish Parliament. As he concludes:

“It is of course very disappointing that the response of the UK Government to such initiatives being taken by this Scottish Government – and to the actual votes of this Scottish Parliament – has been unhelpful and is now contemptuous. That attitude means that we cannot, and devolution cannot, continue with a “business as usual” approach.”

Time has run out for £26tn financial contracts affected by Brexit. This is just one of a slew of bad news stories for the economy this week.

Global consultancy firm Oliver Wyman have said that households could be up to £1,000 a year worse off because of Brexit.

Airbus is planning to remove thousands of jobs from the UK.

The UK economy has ground to a standstill because of Brexit.

The head of the port of Dover has warned that a hard Brexit could lead to gridlock.

While Liam Fox and the UK talk the talk about trade deals, the EU is actually negotiating them. This week the EU and Australia commenced talks to create a new trade deal.

And they also launched talks with New Zealand.

Alyn Smith
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