With the political world spinning, MEPs face an anxious wait for the outcome of Brexit. Ewan Pate gets the inside track from Scottish MEP Alyn Smith.
The SNP’s Alyn Smith, like all other UK Members of the European Parliament, is waiting anxiously to see how the Brexit saga plays out.
He is, however, certain of one thing.
“Whatever trade deals are struck, it is obvious that agriculture will be the first thing to be sacrificed,” Mr Smith said.
“Agriculture was the sticking point of the deal with Japan, but the EU held out and now all the member states will benefit.
“There is no doubt that when it comes to making a trade deal with the US, it will want to send cheaper food produced to lowers standards than the UK and our farmers will be the losers.”
At the moment he is working on the default assumption that the UK will leave the EU on March 29 and his time as an MEP will be over.
It is possible, he conceded, that the UK may ask for an extension of Article 50 but all 27 remaining Member States would need to approach such a move.
Asked what his status would be in such an event, he said: “No-one knows for certain, but it is assumed our mandate as MEPs would simply be extended for however many months an extension lasted.
“This is complicated because there are EU parliamentary elections in May.
“From the Scottish angle it helps that most of the six MEPs across the parties are long serving and experienced.
“I have been an MEP for 15 years and others longer. That helps because we have built up goodwill which we are able to cash in on now.”
Mr Smith is still playing a part in debates, but some sensitivity is required because he realises they are discussing policy which will not apply to Scotland.
A strong Remain campaigner, he blames the current fiasco on a lack of any real Brexit prospectus in the wake of the referendum.
The post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is currently being forged in Brussels without UK input.
Mr Smith added: “I have been keeping an eye on it and do not expect it to be much different from the present CAP.
“There will not be reforms at the Fischler level. Pillar 1 payments will continue and there will be more flexibility on environmental measures.
“Phil Hogan has been a good Agriculture Commissioner for the EU, steering it in the right direction and he has been very helpful to Scotland.”