25 October 2017

S5M-08352 Withdrawal from the European Union (Negotiations)

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Christine Grahame): Time is tight. The next item of business is a debate on motion S5M-08352, in the name of Michael Russell, on Scotland and the negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom on EU exit.



Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

I want to pick up on Mairi Gougeon’s speech and look at the issues from the perspective of UK citizens who are living in the EU. They are not relying on specious promises coming from the Prime Minister or other members of the Westminster Administration. They are applying in considerable numbers for passports from other countries in the EU where they are available. Indeed, we have seen the rather unexpected sight of Ian Paisley Jr of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland handing out Irish passport application forms to his constituents and others. That tells us precisely how difficult the situation is perceived to be for many.

Members of my family and close friends fall into this category. I have a niece in Sweden. She is now a Swedish citizen and the holder of a Swedish passport because she cannot plan her life on vague promises that cannot be banked. She has to assure her future. Incidentally, it is interesting to compare and contrast her experience of becoming a Swedish citizen with the boorach that we heard Mairi Gougeon describe. It took my niece five days to get her Swedish citizenship. I accept that she has been resident there for more than a decade, but I thought that five days was a pretty impressive administrative deal.

My nephew, who lives in Denmark, has yet to submit his Danish passport application but is actively contemplating doing so, and four close friends who have the necessary Irish grandparents are looking to apply for Irish passports.

All across Europe, we have uncertainty for UK citizens, who are not reassured in any way, shape or form by what is coming from Westminster. It is an important matter for EU citizens who live here, but it is equally a significant problem for UK citizens who live elsewhere.

I came to this Parliament and was sworn in on 13 June 2001, and the following day I spoke in my first debate, which was on the European Committee’s report on the common fisheries policy. I was pitched right into debating on behalf of my constituents some of the substantial shortcomings of many of the things that come from Europe. Indeed, the European Committee, as its first headline conclusion from its deliberations, said:

“We believe that the current situation is untenable.”

It was talking about the common fisheries policy.

Given that it comes from an environment in which the EU was funding the building of new Spanish boats while simultaneously ensuring that the Scottish fleet was substantially reduced, the bitterness that people in the north-east of Scotland and other fishing communities have towards the EU is perfectly understandable. However, even there things are changing, because the expectations of fishing communities look increasingly less likely to be delivered.

Yesterday, the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation was advocating in the strongest possible terms that decision making on fishing policy and practice must remain in Scotland. That takes us directly to clause 11(1) of what might be termed the great repeal bill, although Mr Tomkins has given us another title for it that we might adopt if we wish.

The bottom line is that even the most Eurosceptic people are realising the limitations in what is happening. Michael Gove appears to have promised continuing “relative stability” to the Danes and the Dutch, which is absolutely at odds with what fishing communities expected. The negotiations, thus far, are nothing short of a muddle. The EU, with 27 countries that had to agree a common line, was able to do that pretty rapidly. After a substantially longer period, the UK cabinet, with 23 members, has not been able to come to any meaningful agreement as to where we are going.

Let me give a few hints as to how negotiation might be done. One of the leading training companies in negotiation is based in Glasgow and its services are used all over the place. It is a company called Scotwork UK and it has a simple system called LIM-IT. It involves making three lists: things that we would like to get, things that we intend to get and things that we must get. The way you use it is to sit down and work out what is on your lists.

You do not disclose your lists publicly, but bit by bit through the negotiation process. There is not the slightest sign that anything professional is happening in the negotiating of withdrawal. I will end by welcoming the fact that, of the seven clauses of their amendment, the Tories have included four that I can agree with. That is a welcome move forward. It is in everybody’s interest that the negotiations succeed; we all want “progress ... to be accelerated”; we all welcome “the reconvening of the Joint Ministerial Committee”; and, fundamentally, we are all looking to see the great repeal bill amended, because until it is, no meaningful progress will be possible.


Stewart Stevenson
does not gather, use or
retain any cookie data.

However Google who publish for us, may do.
fios ZS is a name registered in Scotland for Stewart Stevenson

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP