12 January 2018 update

I hope you all had a good Christmas and Hogmanay and are now rested for what promises to be a busy 2018. If we are to have a deal it must be concluded within the next ten months or there will not be sufficient time for the European Council and Parliament to ratify the deal before the March 2019 exit date. There is an awful lot to be done in that time and it is going to be a big ask to get the deal done.

These negotiations mean that Brexit is going to become far more real to people as the lies and wishful thinking of the Leave campaign collide with reality. Things are going to be unpredictable and fast moving. Even this week Nigel Farage and the Leave.eu campaign headed by Aaron Banks have called for a second EU referendum! Who would have bet on that last week?

Frankly, I am not sure we are there yet. If there was a feeling in England that the Brexit vote was somehow stolen, especially by a liberal elite aided and abetted by the Scots and the Irish, then it would put rocket boosters on the next iteration of UKIP – which would be more like Britain First – and we would be back here again in a few years’ time. I wrote more about this in response to a piece from Kirsty Hughes of the Scottish Centre for European Relations, you can read her piece here


and mine here:


I’ve always been clear that EU membership, ideally as an independent state but even as part of the UK, is in Scotland’s best interests. In the EU referendum, Scotland voted to remain. This is our starting point and our clear position. In 2018 I will continue to do everything possible to make that a reality.

Go to Scotland in Europe to read the remainder of this update.

You can read Alyn’s previous updates here.

Westminster’s Brexit Plan

Here is Theresa May’s 17th January speech on her plan for the UK leaving the EU.  She announced that UK is coming out of the single market.

On the evening of 17 January the MSP’s in Holyrood debated a motion raised by Michael Russell – Protecting Scotland’s Interests In Negotiating Our Future Relationship with Europe.  Cross party MSP’S voted 86 to 36 in support of the Scottish Government’s proposals to keep Scotland in the single market.

Nicola Sturgeon said that plans to take the UK out of the EU’s single market brought a second Scottish independence referendum “undoubtedly” closer.

You can hear her full interview here.


Brexit Bulletin No. 3

Alyn Smith
Alyn Smith

Welcome to my latest Brexit Bulletin, designed to keep you up to date with the various ramifications of Brexit and what we are doing to ensure Scotland’s best interests are protected.

It has never been more important to keep up to date with what is happening with Scotland in Europe, and I am committed to keeping my constituents up to date with developments. I’m afraid there may well not be much good news, but the Scottish government, most of Scotland’s politicians and I are resolved, we will dig in and get the best deal we can for the people we serve.

An important part of that process is keeping you up to date and informed. Please do feel free to share this update, encourage people to register for more at http://www.alynsmith.eu/stay_informed and I hope you find it useful.

The big news this week was First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s visit to Berlin for talks with the German Government. Nicola set out Scotland’s perspective on the result of the referendum on the EU with Minister of State Michael Roth who said: “This has been a very pleasant and constructive conversation between two dedicated pro-Europeans”.

Nicola’s statement about her visit to Germany can be read here and Michael Roth’s statement can be read here.

The First Minster’s visit has gone down well in Germany and shows what we can achieve if we go directly to Europe rather than via Westminster. Click here for her interview on the ARD channel: https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/sturgeon-117.html

German media has also been pondering the future of Scotland as an environmental leader in the face of Brexit. We are rightly proud of our environmental successes. In the face of Brexit questions are now being asked about whether the Scottish Government will be able to build upon these, or whether the UK government will roll back on the work that has been done. Read the full story from Deutsche Welle here: http://www.dw.com/en/brexit-raises-questions-on-scotlands-role-as-environmental-champion/a-19444543

Back home, Alex Neil MSP has argued that all options must be on the table for Scotland’s future. See Holyrood magazine here: https://www.holyrood.com/articles/news/snp-msp-alex-neil-questions-whether-independent-scotland-should-be-full-member-eu

In Ireland there has been worrying news that Brexit has threatened funding to the peace process. The threat to the €1.2m EU funds vital to support the ‘fragile’ Irish peace is clearly troubling as the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs has pointed out. Click here for the full story in the Irish Times: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/flanagan-1-2m-funds-vital-to-support-fragile-peace-process-1.2746355

European economies have begun to react to the UK’s vote. Both the Netherlands Centraal Planbureau (in Dutch) and the German Institute for Economic Research have revised their growth estimates down by 0.4% and 0.3% respectively in response to Brexit: http://www.cpb.nl/persbericht/brexit-remt-groei-nederlandse-economie https://www.diw.de/en/diw_01.c.540674.en/topics_news/brexit_decision_could_cost_the_german_economy_0_3_percentage_points_of_growth_in_2017.html

The Brexit negotiations themselves are still in the infantile stages but there have been developments in relation to EFTA, the European Free Trade Association. The Norwegian European Affairs Minister Elisabeth Vik Aspaker told the Norwegian daily Aftenposten that “It’s not certain that it would be a good idea to let a big country into this organization.” EFTA is often seen as one of the last hopes for the UK remaining in the Single Market: https://www.rte.ie/news/2016/0809/807946-brexit/ Bloomberg have also attempted to compile a list of redlines from across Europe. A quick skim reveals the difficulties ahead. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-08/brexit-red-lines-drafted-by-eu-27-as-u-k-prepares-its-strategy

Data Transfers between the UK, EU and US. Many sectors are now starting to work out the reality of what Brexit means and data transfer agreements have just got even more complex. Organisations like Facebook and Twitter currently rely on the EU-US frameworks. In the future the UK will need to write its own, protecting the privacy of its citizens whilst allowing internet services to operate effectively. Much more can be read from bruegel here: http://bruegel.org/2016/08/brexit-and-its-potential-impact-on-international-data-transfers/

To end on better news it seems that the Tory plan to scrap the Human Rights Act has been kicked into the long grass. This has been a long time coming but I am pleased that common sense seems to be prevailing. http://rightsinfo.org/plans-scrap-human-rights-act-may-scrapped/

Yours aye,