Monday

25th Sep 2017

British unity shaken by talk of 'hard Brexit'

Leaders of both Scotland and Northern Ireland have suggested they would seek a special deal with the EU, as they fear that the UK's tough negotiating stance on quitting the bloc could hurt their interests.

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said it is "highly likely" that Scotland will break away from the UK in the near future.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"I have never doubted that Scotland will one day become an independent country and I believe it today more strongly than I ever have before," she told her pro-independence Scottish National Party on Sunday (17 October).

The ruling SNP will present a bill for a referendum on independence this week to the Scottish parliament, that would be pursued if all other options fail.

Sturgeon said she would explore all possibilities to prevent Scotland, which voted to remain in the EU on the 23 June referendum, being pulled out of the EU.

"We will propose new powers to help keep Scotland in the single market even if the UK leaves," Sturgeon said.

"I don't believe there is a mandate to take the UK out of the single market and I don't believe there is a majority in parliament."

She said her first approach would be finding a good trade deal for the whole of UK and avoid hard Brexit.

"But if the Tory government rejects these efforts, if it insists on taking Scotland down a path that hurts our economy, costs jobs, lowers our living standards and damages our reputation as an open, welcoming, diverse country, then be in no doubt ... Scotland must have the ability to choose a better future, and I will make sure that Scotland gets that chance," she told party members in Glasgow.

She did not mince words to describe the UK's foreign secretary and secretary of trade.

"Let me be crystal clear about this, Scotland cannot trust the likes of Boris Johnson and Liam Fox to represent us" she said.

'Special case'

Northern Irish leaders have also been alarmed by UK prime minister Theresa May's promise to prioritise control over migration over retaining access to the EU's single market.

Deputy first minister Martin McGuinness told the Guardian newspaper that Northern Ireland should push the EU to grant it associate or even membership status to avoid the “devastating” consequences of Brexit.

Northern Ireland voted in favour of staying in the bloc.

The Sinn Fein member's main concerns are access to the single market, trade, borders with Ireland and maintaining peace.

He said leaders in Dublin and Belfast need to work together to make the case for "special rules" for Northern Ireland. He said a common position could be formulated in the next weeks.

“Theresa May says ‘Brexit means Brexit’, but so far as we are concerned Brexit means disaster for the people of Ireland," said McGuinness.

There is concern that Brexit could destabilise the 1998 peace agreement in the province with the possible reintroduction of immigration and customs checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

“Whenever the government promise there will be no return to the borders of the past, they don’t make it clear there will be no borders. The borders of the past conjures up the idea of British soldiers, checkpoints, queues of cars a mile long," McGuinness argued.

"May says she is negotiating on behalf of the United Kingdom, but there is absolutely nothing united about a so-called United Kingdom. We don’t agree. We see our future in Europe. Scotland sees its future in Europe."

Scotland rattles sabre on independence

The Scottish first minister said that a bill for a referendum would be published next week and attacked the British prime minister over her EU exit positions.

British MPs get chance to shape Brexit strategy

British prime minister Theresa May continued to talk tough on Brexit in a parliament debate on Wednesday, but left room for MPs to prevent a future trade war with the EU.

May: Brexit is 'quiet revolution'

The British prime minister concluded the Tory party conference in the UK by pledging to regain control of immigration and by taking a swipe at pro-EU elites.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Sterling crisis reflects May’s dilemma

Continued uncertainty and confusion over what Brexit might mean sees the pound fall to its lowest levels in 30 years, leaving winter-escaping holidays increasingly out of reach of many Britons.

Opinion

Why British MPs must play Brexit role

Using legal technicalities to frustrate MPs from holding the government to account on Brexit is a tactical misjudgement.

Barnier: UK risks undermining trust in Brexit talks

A day before UK PM Theresa May sets out her Brexit strategy in Florence, top EU negotiator Michel Barnier told lawmakers in Rome: there can be no transitional deal for the UK without a withdrawal agreement.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel wins fourth term, exit polls say
  2. EU to hail 'aspirations' of former Soviet states
  3. UK says credit downgrade was wrong
  4. Dutch state appeals ban on taking air-polluting measures
  5. May proposes 2-year transition period after Brexit
  6. May to call on EU's 'sense of responsibility'
  7. Catalonia has 'contingency plans' for independence vote
  8. Last German polls confirm Merkel's lead

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEU Finance Ministers Agreed to Develop New Digital Taxation Rules
  2. Mission of China to the EUGermany Stands Ready to Deepen Cooperation With China
  3. World VisionFirst Ever Young People Consultation to Discuss the Much Needed Peace in Europe
  4. European Jewish CongressGermany First Country to Adopt Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  6. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  7. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  10. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  11. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  12. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel