By Fiona Grahame
“This is the best deal possible….It is the only deal possible.”President Juncker
I’ve put off writing about the Brexit Deal because despite its importance probably like most people I am wearied of it. I still don’t quite know how we have got to this point.
Scotland is a member of 2 unions – The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and The European Union. The U.K. has been in its present form since 1922 when Ireland became an independent nation. As a member of the UK, Scotland joined the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973 under the leadership of the Tory Government of Edward Heath. The UK had been trying to join since 1961.
To confirm if the people of the UK wished to remain in the EEC the next Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, Labour, held a referendum on 5th of June 1975. 67.23% voted to remain in and 32.77% wanted out.
In the 1975 referendum the only places voting to come out of the EU were Shetland and the Western Isles.
The UK will be leaving the EU, it tried so hard in the past to be a member of, on 29th of March 2019. The EU referendum on which this was based produced quite a different set of results to that of 1975.
In the 2016 EU referendum the UK became very much a divided union. The whole of Scotland and most of Northern Ireland voted to Remain in.
In the UK as a whole 51.89% of the electorate voted to Leave and 48.11% voted to Remain in.
Gibraltar was included in the vote and massively voted to remain in.
The People of Scotland had chosen to remain in the UK in 2014 by a vote of 55% to 45% having been assured that this would mean they would continue to be a member of the EU. So basically Scotland has reaffirmed its choice to remain in Europe 3 times now.
Membership of the EU has been favourable to Scotland where it was able to access funding, research, employment and market opportunities it hadn’t had when it was only in the UK and outside Europe. Not only have many Scots gone to live in EU countries with freedom of movement but many EU nationals have found a home in Scotland.
PM Theresa May has written a letter to us all. In case you missed it you can find it on her Facebook page.
In the letter Theresa May states that the deal the UK Government have made with rEU will:
“take back control of our borders, by putting an end to the free movement of people once and for all.”
“take back control of our money, by putting an end to vast annual payments to the EU.”
“take back control of our laws, by ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK.”
The UK will also leave the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) with an overhaul taking place of both the farming and fishing industry. It should be noted that successive UK Governments have helped to design the CAP and the CFP.
The letter also says that the rights of EU citizens in the UK will be protected, that there will be a free trade area and that joint security operations will continue.
” there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland – so people can live their lives as they do now.”
Theresa May’s letter assures those reading it that Brexit is settled and that no matter what our own views are that we’ve all to get behind the deal and get on with it.
Presenting the deal to the special meeting of the European Council on the 25th of November, President Juncker said:
“This is the best deal possible….It is the only deal possible.”
You can find all the documents by clicking on this link: Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration.
This is what is in the deal. It’s a wee bit different than what Theresa is claiming in her letter.
1. we will not be members of the EU from 29th March 2019 so will have no say on policies and regulations made by the EU.
2. there will be a transition period when all the EU regulations etc will still apply in the UK until 31st of December 2021. The UK will continue to pay its share into the EU during this period.
3. the UK has made financial commitments to the EU and these have to be met with one payment.
4. the UK will no longer be as one entity as special arrangements have been agreed for Northern Ireland and Gibraltar – they will have a different relationship with the EU compared to the other member nations of the UK.
During the transition period there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. and it goes further to state that it is the:
” intention to replace the backstop solution on Northern Ireland by a subsequent agreement that establishes alternative arrangements for ensuring the absence of a hard border on the island of Ireland on a permanent footing”
5. UK citizens will no longer be EU citizens
6. You will not need a Visa to travel to EU countries from the UK so long as you have a valid passport. After the transition period anyone newly becoming an EU or UK citizen may require a Visa.
7. EU and UK citizens who have lived in a country continuously for 5 years have a right of permanent residency. They may have to apply for this.
8. During the transition period goods, medicines etc will be able to move freely between the UK and the EU.
The UK will also be leaving Euratom and at the end of the transition period all Euratom equipment and property in the UK will be transferred to the UK.
The UK will reimburse Euratom for the value of the equipment at : Sellafield, Dounreay, Sizewell, Capenhurst, Springfields and other reactors, research, medical and other facilities.
Fishing & Farming
During the transition period the CFP and the CAP will continue to apply to the UK. In the last year of the transition period the UK will begin negotiations on a new fishing deal with the EU. What the new fishing deal will contain is dependent on negotiations for a UK- EU single customs territory arrangement .
The UK Government is in the process of changing the fishing industry. Seizing Opportunities: The UK Fisheries Bill
Changes are also being made to how we farm in the UK. Threat to Scottish Farming as the UK Government is Set to Take Back Control
The Scottish Government have warned that leaving the EU will cost Scotland £2 billion in the loss of tax revenues by 2040. This is their calculation in to how much EU citizens who come to work in Scotland contribute by paying taxes here.
But of course it’s about much more than statistics and money. Scotland has voted now on 3 separate occasions to remain in the EU but it is being taken out. During the transition period EU rules and regulations will continue except that we will have no say over them.
A hostile environment has been created in the UK and EU nationals living in Scotland feel the effect of this and many have left. Uncertainty still hangs over what will happen after the transition period. One thing is certain, however, in that by 31st of December 2021 we will have left the EU completely, its funding streams and many of its research opportunities. We may have a type of single market arrangement but that will depend on a fisheries deal where EU boats will continue to fish in Scotland’s waters.
For the people of Northern Ireland they will continue to have no border with Ireland and enjoy the associated benefits of being ‘sort of’ in the EU.
I am back where I started and wondering how on earth we got to this position where a deal clearly detrimental to Scotland and against the wishes of its people has been agreed. What Brexit has highlighted is the democratic deficit in the UK. As a member of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Scotland has had no say in these negotiations. The fact that Scotland voted to remain (on 3 occasions) has never been acknowledged by the UK Government. There is no separate or special deal for Scotland, our waters are to be bargained away and our devolved administration, the Scottish Parliament, is to have powers removed from it. To me that marks a material change in circumstances since September 18th 2014.
Time to revisit that question .