What a month it has been for the SNP and Team Scotland in the European Parliament, as the reality of the UK referendum result, and the endless speculation about 'Brexit' options, gripped the EU Institutions and Media. The result certainly underlined the fact that the UK is made up of different countries. The result in Scotland, with all Local Authority areas voting to remain, could not have been more of a contrast to the result in England and Wales. Yet now we face being taken out of the EU against our will.
"There is a problem in London" declared the President of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, in a keynote plenary debate on the repercussions of the 'Brexit' referendum result and the ensuing chaos afflicting the Westminster political parties. What an understatement that was. The absence of political leadership from Westminster is absolutely shameful in these circumstances. The UK Government still has no plan, and even those who led the 'Leave' campaign have no idea what to do next. Perhaps we should not be surprised, given that their campaign was based upon lies. It seems that the 'Leave' side did not expect to win.
In the days following the Brexit vote, we were delighted to welcome the First Minister to Brussels where she met with leaders of the political groupings in the European Parliament and the EP President Martin Schulz before heading to the European Commission to meet with President Jean-Claude Juncker.
Nicola Sturgeon received a warm welcome from President Martin Schulz, remarking that she received a sympathetic hearing to the position Scotland now finds itself in. Although it is very early in the process, Nicola's aim was to set out "Scotland's desire to protect our relationship" with the EU. President Schulz replied saying that he "listened very carefully and he learned a lot" from the meeting with her.
The First Minister also met with five of Scotland's six MEPs - SNP, Labour and Conservative. Within the European Parliament, the five of us resolved to continue to work as 'Team Scotland' to seek out options for safeguarding Scotland's place in Europe. This cross-party effort made clear our shared commitment to ensure Scotland's voice is heard and to underline the majority vote in Scotland to remain in the EU.
It was pleasing to see how well MEPs from across the political divide, and representing a range of countries, engaged with the First Minister along with the high-level meetings she held with Presidents Juncker and Schulz. Scotland is being heard loud and clear. Now for the more difficult challenge of persuading the UK Government to fully reflect Scotland's position in it's preparation for starting the serious negotiation process which will follow the formal launch of the 'Article 50' procedure.
Meanwhile the normal work of the European Parliament continues, with legislative work on a range of important issues in which Scotland has vital interest. For example, in the Fisheries Committee we will be commencing detailed work soon on a Management Plan for the North Sea and on a wide-ranging legislative proposal on Technical Measures. I will continue to contribute and vote on these, and the many other pieces of legislation coming before us, endeavouring to ensure that Scotland's key interests are recognised.
Ian Hudghton MEP