So school holidays, germ infected house and possibly the greatest political crisis to hit the UK for decades (trying not to do a Theresa May here.) Is it any wonder I feel like I’ve become one with the sofa.
I have had to set a routine, because once I hit twitter that’s the rest of the day gone. So mornings now consist of me charging round like an idiot trying to get everything non computer based done, then stopping for lunch and trying to catch up on what’s happened so far. I’ve also just realised I decided on lasagna for dinner tonight because I can do it quickly between the debate and the vote this afternoon – seriously I need help or an intervention.
And today has not been uneventful so far; 2 speeches of note in the EU Parliament this morning (shown on UK tv for a change):
Firstly Farage insulted the whole of the chamber – way to set up reasonable negotiations. I think the responses of Junker; “Why are you still here,” and Guy Verhofstadt’s “Let’s look on the bright side. Finally we’re getting rid of the biggest waste of the EU budget: your salary” as being spot on.
Meanwhile Alyn Smith MEP receives a standing ovation for saying Scotland has stood by Europe and urging them to stand by us (at end of clip.)
Back home, Nicola seems to be in discussions with EVERYONE, the Irish Governments, London Mayor, Gibraltar, European consulates, the EU Parliament.
The first members Standing Council on Europe appointed by the Scottish Government was announced and is packed with experts in their relative fields. It was reiterated that any recommendations must be approved by the Scottish Government before taken further.
- Professor Anton Muscatelli, Principal of Glasgow University
- Sir David Edward, former judge of the European Court of Justice
- Dame Marriot Leslie, former UK ambassador to NATO
- Lord John Kerr, former head of the Diplomatic Service at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office
- John Kay, a leading economist
- Dame Anne Glover, former chief scientific adviser to the President of the European Commission
- Charles Grant, Director of the Centre of European Reform
- David Martin, Labour MEP
- Graeme Smith, General Secretary of the STUC
- Vasco Cal, former economic adviser at the European Commission
- David Frost, whisky, trade expert, former diplomat
- Amanda McMillian, CEO Glasgow Airport
- Professor Alan Miller, former chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission
- Anne Richards, M&G Investments * Edinburgh University Court
- Frances P Ruane, Irish academic economist & former director of ESRI
- Alyn Smith, SNP MEP
- Professor Andrew Scott, University of Edinburgh
- Fabian Zuleeg, European Policy Centre, Brussels
I look at this list and compare it to the UK government announcement of Oliver Letwin as the head of the team that will work on Brexit yesterday and I despair at their lack of preparation. From all accounts, the UK need a panel of around 500 to undertake Brexit and I believe there are 20 civil servants with the relevant experience.
As a side note, if the civil servants didn’t have enough to do, they are now having to deal with angry emails from the public stating their websites are out of date “because EU legislation has now been scrapped”. They are considering having to put up messages that nothing has legally changed as we have not yet left the EU and that legislation is still relevant.
Nicola went to Holyrood today to ask for a mandate for future discussions with Europe to keep out place in the EU. She stressed reiterated that independence is not our first option, but that it is an option – especially due to the change in the constitutional basis that the previous referendum was fought on. The motion voted on today was not to start a referendum but was to start discussions on identify the options available to Scotland.
So how did the other party’s respond?
Ruth Davidson wants the Scottish government to support the UK negotiations. That’s it. UK first and foremost. It also turns out Mundell Jr is as dynamic a speaker as his dad.
Kezia Dugdale still wants Scotland in the UK but supports separate Scottish discussions. However I was over the moon to see her point out the Tory hypocrisy over EVEL being announced within hours of the last referendum. It turns out she can oppose the Tories when pushed.
Patrick Harvie in my opinion had a storming speech supported the negotiation and stated that all options must be open. He highlighted the lies and racism in the recent campaigns and media. Ross Greer also made some very good points, have to admit he is starting to impress me.
Willie Rennie said last week’s results hurt him more deeply than any other vote, and that he is angry that we have been recklessly led down this path and blames the Tories for sparking this constitutional crisis in the UK. Despite him being a unionist he still supports the need for Scotland to explore the options available.
Watching the debate, I am as ever impressed with the quality when compared to the regular Westminster rabble. It becomes more and more obvious that the Tories see the UK as their country first and Scotland second.
pin-up MSP the 6ft blond 25-year-old James Dornan said they should “represent the people of Scotland not the UK Government” in EU negotiations. (you need to watch the debate to get that)
I also feel/hope that while both Labour and the LibDems would prefer to remain in the UK they are maybe on the slow road to accepting that it is better to be in the EU than the UK. (apart from Elaine Smith, anyone who is waiting for a socialist Labour government is going to be severely disappointed)
So after all that, the motion wa passed with 92 votes in favour. The Tories abstained – which will probably be spun as opposing in future months going by past records. Make no mistake – this is historic – the Scottish Parliament has endorsed a full scale diplomatic initiative with Europe for the 1st time in over 300 years.
Craig Murray, ex-ambassador to Uzbekistan, has often an independant country is one that is recognised by others. This may be the first step to Scotland getting that recognition.
So what’s coming up next? Tomorrow Nicola goes to Brussels and will meet with Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Liberal Group, and European Parliament President Martin Shultz. At present there are no plans to meet either Juncker or Tusk (which would be surprising in such a short time scale.)
As a final aside I’m adding this, a guide what to do if you see racist behaviour. I am appalled that I even have to consider posting it.