Islay and Jura Summit, 4TH April 2018

MP summit has Islay and Jura top of the agenda How to build a strategic, long-term plan for sustainable economic growth on Islay and Jura was the only item on the agenda at a high-level Summit meeting organised by Argyll & Bute MP Brendan O’Hara (Wednesday, 4th April).


Feature Photo Source

Feorlean, Michael Russell MSP,Humza Yousaf, Brendan O Hara, Islay Jura, Calmac
My friend and colleague Humza Yousaf is the Scottish Government Minister for Transport and for Islands.
This is him on an island – Jura – with another one – Islay – in the background.
And for good measure a ferry is coming in.
I was with him and my constituency MP colleague Brendan O’Hara today at a variety of events on both islands. .

Among those attending the Summit at the Gaelic Centre in Bowmore were three Scottish government ministers, Humza Yousaf (Transport and Islands) Fiona Hyslop (Tourism) and Michael Russell MSP (Brexit), as well as the Chief Executives of both Argyll & Bute Council and Highland & Islands Enterprise.

The views of the whisky industry were articulated by The Scotch Whisky Association and Diageo, as well as representatives of numerous distilleries on Islay and Jura.

Also present to give the all-important view of the local population were both the Islay and Jura Community Councils, the local Ferry Users Group and the islands’ Tourism and Marketing Group.

They were joined by senior management from CalMac, Transport Scotland, Visit Scotland and Mundell’s Hauliers.

In opening the Summit Mr. O’Hara explained his reason for bringing together so many representatives of national government, local government, the community, public bodies and industry together on Islay.

He said

“Both as MP for Argyll & Bute and as the Chair of the All Party Group on Scotch Whisky at Westminster, everyone I speak to talks about their plans to increase spirit production on these islands and the rise in tourist numbers that will inevitably follow.

Yet at the same time, I know the people of Islay and Jura are at the end of their tether over the crumbling road infrastructure and the huge challenges posed by a ferry service that is very often unreliable and occasionally bursting at the seams.

So I just couldn’t see how increased spirit production, coupled to the inevitable rise in visitor numbers would be possible given the already huge demands being put on both the roads and the ferries.

It seemed that everyone was happily ploughing their own furrow, without any strategic overview or a long-term plan for sustainable economic growth.

That couldn’t go on and I felt it essential that all the stakeholders, from community to national government got together to arrive at a shared vision for the future wellbeing of Islay and Jura.”

Following the meeting, he went on to say,

“And I am absolutely delighted at the announcement by Transport Scotland today that Islay will be the first in line in the next vessel procurement exercise to replace the MV Hebridean Isles. I am also delighted to hear that everyone present at this summit is in agreement about one thing and that is a need for better and more collaborative working and I welcome Humza Yousaf commitment to do everything as practicably possible to ensure the challenges are met and the islands’ potential is realised.”

Immediately after the Summit finished, Mr. O’Hara travelled to Craighouse on Jura to host a public meeting with Humza Yousaf MSP before returning to Bowmore to meet with several local groups including TSI, the Seniors Forum, local councillors, the National Farmers Union of Scotland, South Islay Development, The islands’ Health and Social Care partnership and the small business forum to share how the Summit meeting went and to discuss what steps the local community want to take next in advancing the interest of Islay and Jura .

The day ended with an open meeting at which O’Hara fielded questions from the public about the Summit.

Scottish Government makes new proposal to protect devolution.

Commenting following the latest meeting of the JMC (EN), Michael Russell, the Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, said:

“‎I made it clear today that we are determined to protect devolution.

“However it was deeply disappointing that the UK Government did not bring forward any new proposal today and are pressing ahead with a bill that, even with their proposed amendment, would allow them to unilaterally take control of devolved powers without the agreement of the Scottish Parliament.

“In contrast, in our effort to secure an agreement, the Scottish and Welsh Governments have made another offer to the UK Government today.

“We are clear that the EU Withdrawal Bill must be amended so that the devolution settlement cannot be changed without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.

“That is why we said to the UK Government that if we can agree the areas where UK-wide legislative frameworks may be required after Brexit and if it is also agreed that consent to the necessary parliamentary orders will be required from the Scottish Parliament in each case, then we would take steps to reassure the UK Government that Scotland would not unreasonably withhold that consent.

“With regard to the list of powers, it is completely unacceptable that the UK Government said at the meeting today they have drawn up a new list of powers, including ones they say are reserved, that had not previously been shared or discussed with the Scottish or Welsh Governments.

“We have not agreed this list but in the interests of transparency we do not object to it being published – but that is for the UK Government, as it is their document.

“It now seems that the UK Government has admitted it is struggling to counter the charge that they are conducting a power grab on the Scottish Parliament – and no wonder.

Devolved powers covering farming, fishing, the environment and a range of other areas are at risk. But let’s be clear: the EU Withdrawal Bill allows the UK Government to take control of any devolved power, regardless of any list produced today.

“Right now we are being asked to sign away the Parliament’s powers with no idea of how UK-wide frameworks will work, how they will be governed and how we will go from the temporary restrictions the UK Government wants to agreeing longer term solutions.

“We can’t allow that to happen.

“We continue to want an agreed solution and to be able to recommend consent to the Scottish Parliament – however without further movement by the UK Government we will press ahead with our EU Continuity Bill, which received overwhelming backing across the Scottish Parliament yesterday.”

Russell: We’ll bring in our own laws to protect Scotland from Hard Brexit

“The Leavers promised the Earth in the European referendum but the nasty reality is that the Scottish Parliament will have its powers diminished and key sectors of Scottish life – farming, fishing, our food industries, manufacturing, public services and even our precious NHS – will be badly affected.

“The Scottish Government is working closely with the Welsh Government to try to ensure we are protected from this damage but so far our negotiations have not resulted in the changes we have to see in the EU Withdrawal Bill which is presently going through the House of Lords.

“That is why we are redoubling our efforts to get change and agreement, but why we are also preparing to undertake our own legislation.”

BREXIT Minister Michael Russell will tonight warn that the Scottish Government is prepared to pass its own laws to protect the country’s place…

Source: Russell: We’ll bring in our own laws to protect Scotland from Hard Brexit

May warns Sturgeon publishing leaked Brexit analysis would harm UK’s “national interest”

DOWNING Street has urged Nicola Sturgeon to resist fully publishing Whitehall’s top secret analysis – which suggested Britain’s economy would slump after Brexit – warning it would jeopardise the UK’s “national interest” in the Brussels talks.

Michael Russell, the Scottish Government’s Brexit Minister, has written to David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, making clear that the First Minister believes the public has a right to know the full impact of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU on jobs and living standards.

“This is not our analysis and we do not see it as our responsibility to make arrangements on confidential handling. I want to be clear that if you send the analysis to us, we will make it public,” declared Mr Russell.

The UK Government has indicated that, together with MPs, the devolved administrations will receive the full draft analysis on a “confidential basis”.

Read Full Article: May warns Sturgeon publishing leaked Brexit analysis would harm UK’s “national interest”

Single Market Essential For Scotland

New economic impact analysis by the Scottish Government confirms that in the event of Brexit taking place, the best way to protect the economy would be to remain in the Single Market and the Customs Union.

A failure to remain in the Single Market or to secure a free trade agreement would see Scotland’s GDP around £12.7 billion lower by 2030 than it would be under continued EU membership.

This would mean a loss equivalent to £2,300 per year for each person in Scotland.

The analysis takes account of the impact on trade, productivity and migration of different future relationships. It shows that a so called ‘Canada-type’ deal with the EU would still leave Scotland’s GDP £9 billion lower by 2030 – or £1,610 per head.

Other key findings include:

Remaining within the Single Market could see an additional benefit to Scotland’s economy if the EU makes progress on completing the Single Market in services, energy and the digital economy
Continued migration from the EU in line with Freedom of Movement is required to support continued economic growth, with each additional EU citizen working in Scotland currently contributing an average of £10,400 in tax revenue
Any relationship with the EU short of remaining in the Single Market could have a significant impact on social protections, environmental and consumer policies
Publishing the new analysis Scotland’s Place in Europe: People, Jobs and Investment, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“By insisting on hard-line pre-conditions the UK Government is itself closing the doors on what can be achieved in talks with the EU on the future relationship.

“The aim of the Scottish Government, and the evidence presented in this paper, is to start opening those doors again.

“For the sake of jobs, the economy and the next generation, today we are calling on the UK Government to drop its hard Brexit red-lines so that Scotland and the UK can stay inside the Single Market and Customs Union.

“Scotland is particularly well-placed to take advantage of the developing and deepening Single Market – the world’s biggest economy of 500 million people, eight times the size of the UK.

“Our brilliant world-class universities, our unrivalled potential in renewable energy, our life sciences industry, our digital sector and other key areas of the Scottish economy are all in prime position to reap the rewards of these developments.

“That will mean more jobs and higher wages. It would be a tragedy for future generations if we let that opportunity pass us by.

“The fact that the Prime Minister wants to leave not only the political structures of the EU but come out of the European Economic Area shows just how extreme the UK Government position is. With just weeks to go before the opening of talks on the future relationship that extreme stance must be dropped.”

Minister for Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe Michael Russell said:

“People in Scotland voted decisively to remain in the European Union and we continue to believe this is the best option for Scotland and the UK as a whole. Short of EU membership, the Scottish Government believes the UK and Scotland must stay inside the Single Market and Customs Union.

“The decisions taken in the next few months will be crucial for jobs, wages and opportunities for generations to come and it is vital that the Scottish Government are properly engaged in these decisions.”


Read the full analysis paper here;


Jobs and living standards must come first.

Source: Analysis shows Single Market essential for Scotland

SNP ministers warn of emergency Brexit legislation

The 1998 Scotland Act makes it clear that unless powers are specifically reserved to Westminster, they should be exercised at Holyrood by default.

However the EU (Withdrawal) Bill would see all powers repatriated from the EU at Brexit going to Westminster, at least initially, even those in devolved areas.

The Scottish and Welsh governments say this is a “naked power grab”.

Full Story Here!

SNP ministers have threatened to rush emergency legislation through the Scottish Parliament if the UK government fails to overhaul its main Brexit…

Source: SNP ministers warn of emergency Brexit legislation

Michael Russell: Why the SNP will fight to keep UK in EU Single Market

David Davis wants a ‘Canada-plus’ deal, but that won’t be good enough, writes Scotland’s Brexit Minister, Michael Russell

Source: Michael Russell: Why the SNP will fight to keep UK in EU Single Market

Michael Russell: Brexiteers want to turn Scotland back into North Britain

LIKE everything else in Brexit, the effect of leaving the EU on some of Scotland’s most iconic — and successful — products was never even…

Source: Michael Russell: Brexiteers want to turn Scotland back into North Britain

That is deliberate policy from some Brexiteers. In fact they want to turn the clock back to the 19th-century, when Scotland was known by some only as “North Britain”.

But in addition its hard to get the UK Tory Government to listen to any of Scotland’s concerns at this crucial time. Theresa May isn’t interested in what happens north of the Border and does her best to ignore us.

Home Office blocks Canadian from teaching Gaelic in Hebridean primary school

The Scottish Government has pushed for more Gaelic education in schools, but despite the difficulties in recruitment, Gaelic teachers do not feature on the Home Office’s Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List which allows visa applications from overseas to be fast tracked.

Argyll and Bute MSP Michael Russell has said the rejection is “ludicrous”, as he urged officials to review their decision. “The parents have done a lot of hard work to get a Gaelic unit established,” Mr Russell said.

He blamed an “obsession with keeping migration numbers down” for the rejecting the visa application.

“I have asked the Scottish Government to support the council in redoubling its efforts to get this sorted for the good of the children and community on Mull,” Mr Russell said.

“I hope the UK Government will show some Christmas spirit and withdraw its objection now.”


A Scottish island’s school finally found a Gaelic teacher after a six month search – only for their efforts to be thwarted by the Home Office denying her a visa.


Source: Home Office blocks Canadian from teaching Gaelic in Hebridean primary school

Letter to the Brexit Secretary

Share the Brexit analysis with the public

By 28/11/17


Below is the letter sent by Michael Russell, Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, to the UK Brexit Secretary, on the Brexit sectoral analysis.

We received yesterday the copies of the sectoral reports which you committed to sharing with the UK Parliament earlier this month and are in the process of assessing this material. Whilst we welcome the sharing of information we have concerns about both the manner in which these reports have come to us, and their content.

The First Minister and I have both been clear that the UK Government’s analysis of the impact of Brexit on sectors or the economy as a whole should be made public. It is essential that people across the UK fully understand the consequences of decisions being taken about their future. It is disappointing that the UK Government has persisted in keeping this information from being publicly available and have shared with us only on the basis that we do not release it into the public domain. I urge you to reconsider this approach, be up front with people and publish these reports immediately.

Aside from the matter of publication, it is clear is that these reports do not contain any actual impact analysis. They seem to be a collation of sectoral information, and as useful as that is it fails to address the key need; to understand what assessment the UK Government has made of the likely impact of its approach of leaving the Single Market and Customs Union and what mitigating measures if any are being put in place to manage negative impacts.

I am therefore requesting that you share the full breadth of the analysis that the UK Government has undertaken with the devolved administrations as a matter of urgency.

I am copying this letter to Damian Green, First Secretary of State; Mark Drakeford, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government; and, David Sterling as the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

Yours Sincerely


Add your voice to our call for the Brexit analysis to be published in full, sign our petition here.