European flags © Xavier Häpe


Citizens must be central to Brexit talks

Citizens must be central to the negotiations over the UK's withdrawal from the European Union, according to MEPs from the European Free Alliance group.

MEPs in Strasbourg were discussing the European Parliament's red lines for the Brexit negotiations with the EU's lead negotiator, Michel Barnier, and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

EFA MEPs Josep-Maria Terricabras (Catalunya), Jill Evans (Wales) and Alyn Smith (Scotland) took part in the debate.

J-M Terricabras

They were emphatic that the negotiations should be fair and in good faith, with citizens' interests coming first and people not used as bargaining chips.

SNP MEP Alyn Smith said that the UK Prime Minister did not speak for Scotland or for the 48% of the UK electorate who voted to remain.

MEPs supported a resolution setting out the European Parliament's position for the negotiations.

Josep-Maria Terricabras, President of the EFA Group in the European Parliament said:

"The resolution of this Parliament voted today sets the framework for any future negotiations. Five parliamentary groups have put it forward.

"Both parties have to concentrate on fair and discrete negotiations conducted in a spirit of good faith and political rigour.

"We will have to learn to divorce since we have not been able to learn how to better live together. That means we have to prepare for a future that makes it possible to combine distance with collaboration.

"Finally, as President of EFA I wish to express my conviction that both parties will be able to give fair treatment not just to the territories that expressed their will to remain, Scotland, North of Ireland and Gibraltar, but also to Wales. We have a long way in front of us. Let's honour each other at least with two virtues, with loyalty and courage.

Plaid Cymru – The Party of Wales MEP Jill Evans said:

"The people of Wales have the democratic right to decide on their own future and that includes the kind of EU withdrawal that takes place and the way that it affects our nation.

"The devolved administrations of the UK including Wales of course should be involved at every stage of the negotiations.

"I do not accept that the interests of Wales can be ignored by the UK government. But that is exactly what is happening despite the publication of the white paper 'Securing Wales' future' produced by Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Government.

"It's a comprehensive and constructive plan which includes our continuing participation in the single market which is a top priority for our economy and our communities.

"I see Wales' potential as a successful nation. We have a lot to contribute to this process and to building the future and our voice must be heard."

MEP Alyn Smith

Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith said:

"As a Scottish European I've long wondered how I'd feel today, and the answer is I'm heartbroken. Not for myself, but for the people I serve and for future generations.

"And Scotland will not be silent within this process as our rights are taken away by an administration we do not support, by a vote we clearly rejected, and a process that is demonstrably against our interests.

"While being heartbroken I am also angry at this process, angry at the way that the UK is representing itself, doing a bad thing badly.

"Mrs May and Nigel Farage do not speak for Scotland, do not speak for me, and do not speak for forty eight per cent of the UK's population.

"The UK is not one block however much Mrs May would like it to be. The UK is a complicated set of various interests all of which are better reflected in this resolution than in anything the UK Government has put forward to date.

"Scotland will not be silent in this process and Scotland's top priority in the words of our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is to keep our citizens safe. Scotland is your home. You are welcome here.

"I appreciate that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed but please colleagues, let's make our citizens feel safe. Our citizens from the UK in other countries and from other nations in ours. Let's deal with that first, let's deal with that fast, let's deal with it now."