MY WEEK IN REVIEW-
2nd EDITION
February 29, 2016

Monday

Photo: The National

George Kerevan: European express is on track to hit the buffers

The countdown to the June referendum has begun: yawn, yawn. I trust I am not the only one profoundly bored by the pantomime discussions held in Brussels last week? The script was too obvious: pretend brinkmanship followed by a vague agreement with the other member states that allowed David Cameron to claim victory over his Tory Party Eurosceptics and justify doing what he was always going to do – call for a vote to stay in the EU.

Now for the real news. While I support Scotland staying a member of the EU (regardless of how the English vote) I am mindful that the European express train we’ve known since the Second World War is coming to a shuddering halt. It is difficult to predict exactly what Europe – as a political entity – will look like a generation hence. But one thing is certain: it will look very different from the “ever closer union” or Franco-German hegemony of the past half century.

For the record, I’m not advocating a breakup of the EU. Actually, I fear the consequences. My point is that in the face of existential cracks appearing in the European Union, Cameron’s contrived referendum is a complete distraction. This is a spat internal to the British ruling elite. Meanwhile, Europe is burning and the fire is going to singe us all.





 
 
I took the train down to London on Monday morning in time for the Prime Minister's statement on the deal he supposedly cut on EU membership. I am not convinced the deal stands up to scrutiny. I decided to question Mr Cameron on his claim that the Bank of England alone is now in charge of UK financial stability. In fact, we remain part of the European Banking Authority.  That is no bad thing: I am in favour of ensuring that all of Europe's banks are safe and honest.
Source: Parliament TV

Tuesday

I spent most of Tuesday in a Public Bill Committee examining the new Bank of England Bill. I put forward several amendments.  One was Clause 3, in which I attempted to guarantee the independence of the financial watchdog, the Prudential Regulation Authority, from political interference by the Chancellor.

Click play for audio

Source: Parliament TV
In the afternoon I put forward another amendment.  I proposed that the name of the Bank of England reflect our modern, multi-national democracy and be renamed the Bank of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Predictably, the Conservative Treasury minister said no.

Click play for audio

Source: Parliament TV
I also made my regards to the Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denis Zvizdić, who was visiting parliament. I'm happy to say many of his compatriots have made a permanent home in East Lothian, having come here as refugees in the 1990s. East Lothian always welcomes refugees!

Wednesday

Today I rattled David Mundell Secretary of State for Scotland. During his statement on the Fiscal Framework for Scotland, I challenged him on the disrespectful nature of the UK Treasury's negotiating ploy - initially demanding a £7 billion cut in Scottish funding, despite the Smith proposals saying that any tax changes would not be to Scotland's "detriment". Fortunately, John Swinney forced the Treasury to back down.

Source: Parliament TV
Later on Wednesday afternoon, I supported the motion to implement fair transitional arrangements for those women born in the 1950s who will suffer financially due to the unjust acceleration of the increase of the pension age.

Thursday

On Thursday I tabled an Early Day Motion to celebrate the memory of Captain Eric Brown, who died recently. Eric flew more types of aircraft than any other pilot. I was fortunate to meet him and interview him for TV documentaries I made. Aviation played an important role in the history of East Lothian. I am giving my backing to the campaign by the Museum of Flight at East Fortune to raise funds to build a modern extension.

Read the Early Day Motion here...
In this week's East Lothian Courier I affirmed my support for the local people of Cockenzie to take the site of the Battle of Prestonpans into community ownership.

Friday

I took the train back to East Lothian to attend an event on Friday morning hosted by the Social Enterprise East Lothian Network, at the Goth in Prestonpans. The meeting aimed at helping local people found new social enterprise businesses. Three excellent presentations, with Tracey Muirhead taking us through the many facilities the School for Social Entrepreneurs Scotland provides. Thank you to Elaine Gale for organising such a stimulating morning.​  East Lothian could benefit from more social enterprise.


On Friday afternoon I held advice surgeries in Dunbar, North Berwick and Haddington. I do these each month but if you have an urgent problem you can always contact me through this website.

Saturday

On Saturday night I attended the Scottish premiere of 'Groundswell Rising', at the Town House in Dunbar. 'Groundswell Rising' is a documentary film that highlights the health and environmental dangers associated with fracking for underground gas. After the documentary I chaired a lively discussion and had Professor Andrew Watterson on hand to explain the issues that would emerge if Scotland ever permitted fracking.  Fortunately the Scottish government has imposed a moratorium on fracking. Click here for the full tour details of the film.









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