Scottish and European

Nicola Sturgeon today unveiled ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe’ – the first plan anywhere in UK for dealing with Brexit. It’s a bit of an odd thing to watch, a highly detailed policy document being tossed into the void. You can read it here ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe’.

A key section is here:

20. In the context of Brexit it is important to distinguish between membership of the EU and membership of the European Single Market. As we make clear throughout this paper, the Scottish Government recognises that a majority of voters in England and Wales voted in favour of leaving the EU. But, as we note at various points in this paper, we do not accept this requires any part of the UK to exit the European Single Market. This is because, since 1994, it is possible for some countries outside the EU to be in the European Single Market. This is the course of action we urge the UK Government to pursue.

Some commentators – such as the Very Reverend – believe this is all just a nonsense and these proposals will be completely rejected, and they may well be. Certainly the UK Govt has suggested little other than contempt for any proposals.

But there’s two other things going on here.

The first is a detailed layout of what our ACTUAL benefits are of being part of Europe, a project that the Scottish Government can’t afford to leave to anyone else, and second that the UK Govt is so bewildered confused and directionless that it might actually need the odd Olive Branch of coherence as it staggers about the corridors of Strasbourg sans Scooby in the following months. Either way its clear that this document is far beyond the expected blah blah blah of going through the motions.

They are indeed “detailed, serious and reasonable”:

Theresa May’s response if predictably bland and incoherent.


This is frankly hilarious. She compares the other devolved countries to the Scottish position. “We’ve been encouraging devolved administrations to identify their particular concerns” she says. What exactly is the Welsh Government going to say, in this context?

Two responses to the Scottish Govt paper are interesting.

In section 88, 89 and 90 they write:

88. Energy and climate policy has domestic, regional and global implications and connections. The EU’s legislative reach, market influence and climate diplomacy are extensive. The EU has led international efforts to secure a global, legally-binding agreement to address climate change, and was instrumental in two decades’ worth of complex negotiations with other major economies such as the US, China and India, to deliver the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015. Through the UK’s membership, Scotland has benefited from being a direct part of the EU’s considerable diplomatic clout in the climate negotiations, projecting our domestic climate leadership internationally, through collective effort with our EU partners – an influence that would diminish outside the EU. At home, the EU’s climate and energy objectives are also increasingly important in UK and Scottish efforts to address the energy and climate goals of ensuring secure, affordable and de- carbonised energy supplies while also ensuring that those energy supplies continue to drive competitiveness and economic growth. Companies developing clean, innovative technologies have been supported by crucial EU funding to explore ocean energy, alternative fuels, energy storage and smart grid technology.

89. Examples of recent EU awards to Scottish marine projects (not yet drawn down) include €37.4 million of NER 300 funding for MeyGen phase 1B and Sound of Islay; €10 million of Horizon 2020 funding for Scotrenewables Tidal Power; and €3.9 million to support tidal energy testing and demonstration in waters around Orkney. The European Investment Bank (EIB) has also agreed to provide £525 million to support the construction of the Beatrice windfarm. This is the single largest support ever for investment in an offshore wind project by the EIB. Scotland needs to continue to benefit from EU programmes, co-operative projects, and access to the preferential lending of the EIB, but also has huge expertise we want to continue to offer.

90. Maintaining access to the internal energy market is also a priority for energy stakeholders in Scotland, as it is across the UK47. The internal market is vital to delivering low cost, affordable energy, and to driving de-carbonisation and investment in renewables. EU legally-binding renewable energy and energy efficiency targets have driven the huge growth in renewable energy in Scotland, giving certainty for investors and making a significant contribution to achieving our climate change targets. Internal market rules ensure fair access for suppliers, set a framework for interconnection, and protect consumers. This contributes to lower energy costs, greater security of supply, and the competitiveness of our business and the Scottish economy.
These are key points. The MeyGen, Islay and tidal projects are huge investments, and the Beatrice wind farm is a massive project dependent on connectivity and support from across Europe. These are the kind of massive projects that we desperately need to innovate economy and ecology.

Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“We welcome these proposals from the Scottish Government, which clearly put protecting our environment and co-operation on reducing climate change emissions at the heart of Scotland’s position on Europe. If we really are embarking on the risky adventure of leaving the EU then this is a good set of proposals which safeguard many of the benefits of our current European membership including environmental protections, free movement of people and consumer rules that protect us from harmful chemicals in food and other products.”

He continued: “The vote to leave the EU is a huge challenge to decades of progress on improving the environment and working together to tackle climate change. The Scottish Government has already made welcome commitments to maintain current environmental protections and to continue to work together on climate change, and these are strongly re-inforced in these proposals and in today’s statements from the First Minister.”

Secondly, our education system is at threat by being pulled out of Europe.

Commenting on the paper, Professor Andrea Nolan, Convener of Universities Scotland and Principal of Edinburgh Napier University said:

“Higher education transcends borders. Our relationships with Europe, European universities and other European institutions remain very important to us. Since the Brexit vote we have been clear that our priority is to work with all Governments and stakeholders to ensure those relationships are preserved. We welcome publication of this document as a clear record of the Scottish Government’s priorities and intentions in regards to the European Union. There are aspects of Scotland’s interests, as identified by the Scottish Government, that we strongly identify with including economic interest, solidarity and influence. We welcome the pragmatism in the Scottish Government’s approach and echo the call for all sides to use ‘imagination and flexibility’ in these unprecedented negotiations.” 

She added: “The Scottish Government’s paper clearly sets out the importance of Scotland’s higher education sector’s relationships with Europe. Our priorities in the negotiations relate to the continued free movement of student and staff talent, and access to and influence over European research funds and collaborations. It is helpful to see these so clearly identified as one of the many priorities of the Scottish Government in this document. We urge the Scottish and UK Governments to find a way forward that supports universities as a welcoming space and a constructive partner for our European friends. ”

Our renewable energy potential, our climate change strategy, our university sector, those aren’t insignificant areas to be gambled away on the whim of Farage’s psyche or the political ambitions of Liam Fox and Boris Johnston.  They are massive pasts of our future economy and our cultural heritage.

There are an estimated 80,000 jobs in Scotland at risk if we become disconnected, and the institutions and research centres that can see a productive future are beginning to wake up to those harsh realities and the benefits of being part of Europe. Nicola Sturgeon’s   “compromise” whereby Scotland remains in EU single market even if rest of UK leaves is likely a sophisticated bluff, but it is one with enough finesse common sense and detail that it has to be taken seriously. It is as pragmatic and detailed as the UK govt plans are fantastic, ideological and elusive.

Comments (23)

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  1. Crubag says:

    It’s not a great document. It doesn’t convert into simple statements where the SNP can then say: we got this/we didn’t get that. Which could then be the starting gun for indy2.

    It’s weak on the difficult issues of immigration – suggesting policing by employers would be sufficient – not if people disappear into the black economy…

    And on tariffs it rather trails off, presumably because the implications are that there would need to ne an internal border to police this.

    1. Robert Graham says:

      well let’s have yours then , we are all ears .

    2. tartanfever says:

      ‘It’s weak on the difficult issues of immigration – suggesting policing by employers would be sufficient – not if people disappear into the black economy…’

      This is exactly the same that is being proposed for London. In order to retain financial passporting to the EU markets to keep the banks from leaving the city. It has been suggested by both the London mayor and UK government officials.

      If it is unworkable for us, then it is also for the City of London, in which case, say goodbye to 20% of UK tax receipts as every bank moves to the continent.

      In reality, it’s a clever strategy – if London is given special status and Scotland isn’t, it will only increase support for Independence. If London loses finance passports, the economic implications will also only increase support for Independence – especially if some of that London financial sector relocates to Scotland.

    3. East Neuker says:

      I agree with the other commenters, Crubag. Let’s hear your suggestions rather than your negativity and criticism. If it’s weak, what would you put forward? It’s easy to carp, not so easy to provide alternative, workable options. C’mom then…….

      1. Crubag says:

        In terms of drafting, it needs the key asks to be set out in the conclusion, succinctly. I suspect its in the weak state it is because the ideas themselves aren’t very good. The “example” of London setting itself up as a city state is a case in point.

        I think its too soon to devise a third way between the British and European unions. We don’t yet know what their own agreement will be, and therefore how a devolved Scotland would fit. At this exact moment you could really only posit an indy2 on the basis of EEA status (keep the fish, get a Scots currency, accept EU regulatory direction) or non-EEA status (fish, currency, no regulation).

        I think the time would be better spent at the moment on the other half of better government, reforming local government, giving it greater powers and bringing it closer to the people. We don’t need to wait.

        1. Crubag says:

          The London city state idea was drawn up by PWC and is effectively tying immigrants to specific employers, who then become the immigration watchdog. Something similar to working in the Gulf, with all the powers of patronage that brings.

          I don’t see a system of work permits as being something so attractive to rEU that they would give free movement in return.

        2. bringiton says:

          Isn’t this what the Brexiteers are promising for NI?
          An open border with the EU,a customs union with the EU,continuing acceptance of EU legislation and so on whilst NI continues as part of their UK.
          They are in a real bind with this and other selective sectors,including Gibralter.
          This paper goes some way to proposing a workable solution for all of their problems and satisfies the democratic wishes of the Scottish electorate,not that Westminster gives two hoots for that.
          However,since the origin of the paper lies in England’s last colony,I don’t expect the arrogant Tory colonialists to pay any attention to it,with all the fallout that will follow as a consequence.
          An excellent effort from the SG.

    4. Alf Baird says:

      This really is an excellent and very comprehensive document setting out reasonable, proven, innovative options for Scotland in the wake of Brexit and the further socio-economic pain that the UK seek to inflict on Scotland. The rudderless UK Government will of course reject it, much like any arrogant colonial power probably would, reflecting the usual innate response many Scots have grown weary of.

      1. Alf Baird says:

        Well, there we have the usual rejection, this time in under 24 hours:

        Bring on Indyref2, or UDI ‘triggered’ by 56 of 59 Scottish MP’s (i.e. 95%). The latter could be done now, before Article 50 is triggered. That could be important.

      2. Patrick says:

        Lack of understanding of what democracy is about.

        The biggest difficulty in Scotland is that parliament respects too much minorities, and in democracy everything is done with the majority decision, if the vote to continue in the EU overwhelmingly, there is no need to go To another referendum, you just need to declare independence, and let the Brits get away with it all.

    5. Maria F says:

      Has anybody else noticed in their day to day lives that it is usually the most boring, incompetent, arrogant and uncreative ones those who dedicate their time and energy exclusively to demolish what others are positively attempting to build rather than roll on their sleeves, switch on their thought-producing grey cells and help out with alternatives or constructive suggestions?

      I have encountered this attitude many times now and, at least in my experience, it has usually been associated to three well defined types of personality:

      1. That of somebody who believes that attacking any form of change or progress, no matter how good it could be for the majority or for a project, will ensure that the ‘boring impractical old’ that they are good at and familiar with remains forever. That is the only way they can feel like a big fish in a small pond.

      2. That of somebody that is well aware of their complete inability and will to create anything similar in quality so, in order to protect their fake image of competency, they proceed to attack/bully the work of others in the hope to deflect the attention from their own incompetence.

      3. That of somebody whose level of arrogance and narcissism is such that they cannot possibly accept that something good can be produced by somebody else because that would be admitting that they are only second best and hence replaceable. The mere thought of this terrifies them and they must wipe off any creation of others asap so they can still see themselves as top game.

      Now, let’s see Crubag…..

      Before the EU referendum, who was the political party in the UK that actually had the will and creativity to prepare a plan just in case brexit happened? Let me answer that for you: the SNP

      During the last 6 months since the EU referendum and considering that a 62% of the electorate in Scotland voted to remain in the EU, which political parties in Scotland have had the creativity, the guts, the humbledness and proactivity to roll their sleeves, engage their brains, prepare and deliver outstanding speeches and statements with substance, engage with other EU countries and other EU political parties to ask for help to keep Scotland in the EU rather than issue vacuous, stupid and meaningless soundbites such as that of ‘brexit is brexit’? Please allow me: that would be the SNP and the Scottish Greens. Actually, I tell lies: Mr Johnson from the Tory party has been engaging with other countries, but seemingly (according to what I read in that rag called The Metro) not to talk about Scotland but rather to promote his new book…. I do not think we can count that one, do we?

      During the last 6 months, which was the political party in Scotland that has had the guts to meet face to face the EU citizens in a conference in Edinburgh, to answer the questions of, you know, those citizens that having done nothing wrong find themselves stranded in a limbo thanks to the Brexiteers and aggravated by the viciousness of a Tory party that wants to use them as bargaining chips? Let me answer this for you: that will be the SNP

      Again, during the last 6 months, which was the political party in Scotland that has had the creativity, the guts, the will and the humbleness to listen to as much of the electorate as they possibly could by means of a national survey, rather than relying of Tory owned polls that are biased before they even start asking the questions? Ahh, yes! That will be the SNP too Crubag, because as far as I remember, the LibLabCon bunch were too busy (and hilariously still are!) parroting the nonsensical script sent by their HQ in London, yes, you know that old porky of ‘there is no appetite for a second independence referendum’ or their antidemocratic favourite ‘there is no mandate for a second referendum’ rather than actually have the guts to listen to the electorate they represent.

      Actually, which are the creative, brave, democratic political parties in Scotland that acknowledging the validity of the two referendums (Scottish and EU one), are willing for the people of Scotland to make their own choice of union in the form of a referendum? that would be the SNP and the Greens. In contrast, LibLabCon, will go to even to the outrageous lengths of claiming that one referendum was more important than the other (important for who, I wonder) so they can remain in their comfort zone of unionism without having to use much their brains to engage with the electorate.

      Remind me Crubag, within the last 6 months, which was the only political party in Scotland that has had the creativity, willpower and guts to generate a document as the one mentioned in the article above so everybody in Scotland can read it to know what to expect or what options are there? Ahh yes, that will be the SNP again. Where is May’s document? Where is Ruth’s document? Where is Kezia’s document? Where is Rennie’s document?

      Actually, who was the only side during indiref1 that had the creativity, the willpower, the guts, rolled on their sleeves and engaged their brains producing the white paper of independence? That would be the YES Scotland side. Where is the Better together’s paper on unionism? Nowhere because the BT bunch weren’t of the creative type, were they?

      By the way, where is the creative document to inform us about Brexit that Farage, Gove, Boris and the brexiteers should have presented BEFORE the EU referendum? In what spatial dimension did they hide it?

      Now we all know that it is far, far easier to read, criticise and pull apart something that somebody else has produce than actually engage our brains, our imagination, our will and roll our sleeves to produce it, Don’t we?

      Can you see a pattern emerging here Crubag? Because I can. The SNP and the Greens are emerging as the only creative parties in Scotland, that are actually creating/doing/using their brain to do something positive for Scotland. Of the opposition in Scotland, I only see that the Greens are willing to roll on their sleeves and engage their brains to contribute to the creation with suggestions of their own and positive criticism.

      Now, which ones are the three political parties that, apart of madly flip-flopping like the big cowards they are in their stance about Scotland in the EU, have created/produced/done/contributed nothing, zero, zilch, nada in terms of viable ideas, constructive criticism, proposals, statements or why not? hefty documents like the one mentioned above and yet have not stopped criticising and frantically attempting to demolish the creations of others?

      That will be the trio LibLabCon.

      Well, they clearly emerge in my books as the boring old fart scared of change, the incompetent insecure frightened of being showed off for how insignificant they really are and the narcissist egotist that cannot possibly take on that somebody else is better than themselves. You can put them in the order you want, but the truth is that the SNP and the Greens are the only parties in Scotland that are actually doing their job (representing the people of Scotland) while SLibLabCon’s volatile brains seem to have completely forgotten that their reason to be is to represent the interests of the people of Scotland so they are now acting as the toy soldiers of the Westminster establishment continuously parroting the script created and edited by somebody down south, because the scottish unionists have not been placed here to create but to demolish what others create.

      Needless to say that the only government in the entire Uk that is acting like a creative government rather than a bunch of incompetent headless criticising chickens is the Scottish one.

      By the way Crubag, where is your creative alternative to the proposal of the Scottish Government?
      Or are you going to tell us now that you are not of the creative type?

      1. Mike17 says:

        Excellent post

  2. Patrick says:

    Good Luck, I will land soon with the trope.

  3. iain macgillivray says:

    Weak or not, it is better than Brexit is brexit and it clearly attempts to put a stake in the ground for the Scottish people. Well done, slap them in the puss with the biggest gauntlet possible and let their msm dogs loose to attack us, time for visibility and action, not lies and vows and fluffymundellitis…

    1. Patrick says:

      And what about this:
      Home Affairs Committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper pressed Mrs May to explain what level EU migration would fall too after Brexit
      Perhaps she need to hiring:
      Sherlock Holmes

  4. Wullie says:

    The last thing local government should be getting is more power, what we need is to get rid of Labour’s hold on Glasgow this May & hold a thorough independent investigation into past corruption. This goes back at least to the sixties & the jailing of three councillors for corruption. London Labour imposed direct rule on the city’s Labour party & the “Branch” mentality became embedded!

    1. Alberajudge says:

      What past corruption may that be??spit it out?dont throw in a grenade without pulling the pin??if you have something concrete say it…reading these posts is tiresome jock 3rd year at school current affairs..wake up n smell the irn Bru..I now realise wer the terminology whinging jock came with the situ..brexit is gonna happen hooray say the jock fishermen..highland weetabix head trump has his finger on the button hooray again..but alas us common working class folk are sneered at for not been able to spell reverndum ken wit our vote is very decisive..but we live the problems and fight the thankfully ultimately we have the don’t like that?can always move to the socialist utopian state that is can’t vote but you will live longer..and the schools are miles ahead of Scotland since devolution in the league tables..plane to Havana for mr swinney??theres no missiles there any more thankfully there parked 40miles from my home..keeping my children safe..I’ll let trump borrow em tho if he wants to get rid of the wind farms.merry Christmas and a happy new brexit!!

      1. Pilrig says:

        Your children are probably thinking : “dad, lay off the buckie.”

  5. kbhresq says:

    It will be interesting to see whether the SNP can make common cause with the many politicians from London and surrounding areas which voted heavily to remain. In particular, the combined clout of such a coalition at Westminster could be considerable.

  6. Donnie McRitchie says:

    The same old westminster response to Scotland’s reasoned and well thought out request, no, no, no, etc.

    Mrs May is looking unsure, irrational and somewhat haggard with a cabinet of full of right wing rejects who have not got a clue. This can not go on for much longer.

    My preference is that as soon as Article 51 is triggered, the scottish government call and set a date for a second referendum.

    labour will fall apart in a second referendum campaign, the progressive and smart faction which I predict will be the majority, the rump will align with the tories. An independent Scotland offers a chance for labour in Scotland, within union there is no future for labour in Scotland.

  7. Redgauntlet says:

    Months of work by Scottish civil servants, rejected by a Prime Minister with no mandate in Scotland whatsoever in not even 24 hours.

    The Tories don’t even do common courtesy these days. What a nasty bunch of self-satisfied, masturbatory mediocrities they are….

    …if events of the last few months don’t waken up the Scottish electorate, then you just want to give up.

    I just pray we get out of this Union in the next two years, and I pray England and all its smug and arrogant politicians, media people and celebrities drive over a Brexit cliff…

    1. Frank says:

      Some of you just don’t get it. Foreign affairs is a reserved matter and the opinion of the 1st Minister, or of the Scottish parliament, is irrelevant. No matter how much that may upset some people that is a constitutional fact. Our, or is it Sturgeon’s, Scottish Government would, as has already been said, be better occupied making plans on how better to run the country and especially reforming local government. And I say “Sturgeon’s government” because according to Alex Neil there were more than him who voted Brexit but he is the only one who admitted to doing so. If what he says is true then we have to ask why none of the rest spoke up? Perhaps it is because they are feart fur their joabs and if that is the case what does it say about the SNP and democracy?

  8. Don Hodgson says:

    22-12-2016, The Spanish Prime Minister has again ruled out Scotland remaining in the EU’s Single Market if the UK leaves, a local media reports that he would block any separate Brexit deal for Scotland.

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