The Scottish Parliament has now closed for a two-week Easter recess but Scotland’s politicians are unlikely to be resting for long. Quite apart from indyref2, the sequel, and matters Brexit, now formally triggered, the council elections are just 35 days away. We will be doing an Insider Special in two weeks’ time to preview Scotland’s third all-out election in as many years but this week’s focus is Brexit.
Theresa May sending her Article 50 letter on Wednesday was a key step on the uncertain Brexit journey and we thought this summary might be useful in terms of what happens next. A second Scottish independence referendum may be sandwiched into the latter stages if Nicola Sturgeon gets her way:
- 29 March, 2017– UK triggers Article 50
- 29 April – EU summit of the 27 leaders (without the UK) to agree to give the European Commission a mandate to negotiate with the UK
- May– European Commission to publish negotiating guidelines based on the mandate the EU leaders give it. The EU might say something about possible parallel negotiation on a future EU-UK trade deal
- May/June 2017– Negotiations begin
- 23 April and 7 May– French presidential elections
- 24 September– German parliamentary elections
- Autumn 2017– The UK government is expected to introduce legislation to leave the EU and put all existing EU laws into British law – the Great Repeal Bill
- October 2018 – Aim to complete negotiations
- Between October 2018 and March 2019– The Houses of Parliament, European Council and European Parliament vote on any deal
- March 2019– UK formally withdraws from the European Union (The Article 50 negotiations could be extended, but this is subject to the approval of the other 27 EU member states)
The Great Repeal Bill White Paper was published yesterday (Thursday 30 March) and it sets out the UK Government’s proposals for ensuring a functioning statute book once the UK has left the European Union. It provides the detail on:
- The repeal of the European Communities Act 1972
- How EU law will be converted into UK law
- How corrections will be made to the statute book, to ensure the law continues to function once we have left the EU.
Earlier this week, the Scottish Parliament voted this week formally to seek a Section 30 order from the UK Government. The final vote was 69 in favour (every SNP and Green MSP) and 59 against (everyone else, bar the Presiding Officer). A Section 30 order would allow the Scottish Government to hold a second legally binding independence referendum – but it will require the UK Government’s consent and the Prime Minister has already indicated that will not be forthcoming this side of the UK leaving the EU. Buckle up.
Ministers like to use recess for travel and Nicola Sturgeon is no exception. Her office has confirmed that she will visit California and New York next week to promote the skills and expertise of Scotland to the North American business community. The visit will focus on promoting trade and investment between the two countries, boosting tourism, sharing best practice across the public and private sector and promoting Scottish innovation and entrepreneurship. The programme of activity, delivered by Scottish Development International (SDI) and the Scottish Government, will take place from 2 to 7 April 2017 in both California and New York City.
If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or firstname.lastname@example.org