22nd Edition
July 18th, 2016

Monday 11 July

Monday morning and I'm on the train to London. On Mondays my regular column appears in The National Newspaper. This week I wrote about the outcomes of the NATO summit in Warsaw.

Photo: The National
George Kerevan: Summit signals start of new era in post-war relations with the Russians

ONE has to dig down pretty far into the BBC News website pages to find any analysis of this week’s big Nato summit meeting in Warsaw. Fair do’s, internal British politics is quite interesting at the moment, what with both the main establishment parties at Westminster in existential crisis. Unfortunately, as the doorstopper-sized Chilcot report reminds us, the British media frequently conspires to hide inconvenient facts about UK participation in foreign adventures.

This Nato summit was something special: the Warsaw gathering made key strategic decisions that effectively transform the global political balance of forces. In a nutshell, Nato has completed its transformation from being a (post-war) defensive shield for America’s European allies into a global extension of Western military might.

The most significant military development announced at the summit was the alliance’s new anti-missile defence screen, which went operational on Friday. Supposedly, this missile shield is to deter (and in extremis shoot down) missiles fired by “rogue” states such as Iran. Russia thinks otherwise. The Kremlin sees the new missile system as a signal to Vladimir Putin – post the annexation of Crimea – that Nato is developing the capability of nullifying Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

You can read the full article here

Later that day I went to the Chamber to take part to in the debate on the Wales Bill. Along with my colleagues on the opposition benches and in solidarity with Plaid Cymru MPs, we voted against the government proposal for a new Wales Act.

Tuesday 12th July

Tuesday was by far the busiest day of the week. I started early in the morning by writing my weekly column for the East Lothian Courier, which is published on Thursdays.

I then went to the Treasury Select Committee to quiz the Governor of the Bank of England on the Bank's latest stability report. During the session we also debated the consequences of the decision to leave the European Union. Scotland voted to stay in the EU and I am campaigning to see that happens. 

You can watch the session here :
Following the Treasury Select Committee meeting, I went to a lecture given by the famous French philosopher Bernard Henry-Levi, on the subject of Brexit. 

BHL, who was introduced by Bob Stewart, MP for Beckenham and former first British Commander of United Nations forces in Bosnia, talked at length about the threat that Brexit represents for Britain, for the EU and for the principle of democracy itself.  

Next I chaired a business roundtable on hidden fees in foreign exchanges and financial services. When you buy foreign currency or use a cash machine abroad, you pay a massive (hidden) charge over and above the real cost of the currency.  I am campaigning to expose this practice. The group discussed ways of achieving this, which could include new legislation to make the banks reveal to customers these hidden charges.  

The last item in the diary for Tuesday was the screening of the award-winning documentary "The Fog of Srebrenica" by Samir Mehanovic, for which I acted as executive producer. We were honoured to be able to show the film in Parliament, in the presence of MPs and representatives of the charity Remembering Srebrenica, during its UK premiere tour.

On the week marking the 21st anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, it was of the utmost importance to take time to commemorate and reflect on the causes and consequences of the tragic events which unfolded at the door of Europe only two decades ago. 

Wednesday 13 July

On Wednesday morning, prior to France's national holiday the following day, I tabled an Early Day Motion to celebrate the long history of friendship between our two countries, wishing for our close cultural, economic, and political co-operation and collaboration to continue to prosper across the Channel despite the consequences of Brexit.

The text of the motion is as follows:

          "That this House sends friendly greetings to the people of France on 14 July; notes that this date was designated as their National Day by law on 6 July 1880 in commemoration of the Fête de la Fédération which took place on 14 July 1790 at a time when the country was seeking out national, political and peaceful unity following the divisive events of 1789 to 1790; champions the long association between the various peoples of France and the British Isles, including the Auld Alliance between France and Scotland; remembers that in December 1939, Britain and France created an Anglo-French Co-ordinating Committee for the joint planning of their wartime economies, a body chaired by Jean Monnet, who was later the founding father of the European Economic Community; further notes that on 16 June 1940, the British War Cabinet agreed a resolution stating that France and Great Britain would no longer be two nations, but one Franco-British Union, the constitution of the Union will provide for joint organs of defence, foreign, financial and economic policies, that every citizen of France would enjoy immediately citizenship of Great Britain, and that every British subject would become a citizen of France; and hopes that, whatever the outcome of the negotiations following the 23 June 2016 referendum to take the UK out of the EU the peoples of France, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will continue to enjoy close ties of friendship and economic co-operation."

Then, following several meetings, I went to the Chamber to attend the last session of David Cameron's Prime Minister's Questions. Angus Robertson, our leader, spoke on behalf of all our benches when he said that the SNP wished the outgoing Prime Minister well on a personal basis, but could not acclaim his premiership, which has led to an increase in the number of food banks, a widening of the gap between the most and the least well-off in our country, and to the risk of Scotland being dragged out of the EU against its will. 

I stayed in the Chamber afterwards for the first day of the debate on the Chilcot report on the Iraq Invasion.  Given the high number of Members wishing to speak, I was not called by the Speaker. I eventually had my chance the following day.

After the adjournment of the debate, I went along with my staff to the SNP Summer Press Reception near Saint James Park. In the middle of the opening speeches we heard about the appointment of Boris Johnson as new Foreign Secretary.  At first I thought it was a joke!

Thursday 14 July

On Thursday, I was back in the Chamber for the remainder of the debate on Chilcot. I had to stay almost until the end of the debate to get to speak. You can watch my contribution below.

And my weekly column appeared in the East Lothian Courier. Scroll down on the right hand side to read it.

Friday 15 July

Back in the constituency, I visited The Lamp of Lothian charity in Haddington to hear about the Lammermuir Festival - for which I have already booked my tickets - and The Bridge project. I was impressed by the extensive community facilities The Bridge offers, and particularly impressed by its Motorcycle Project.

I'm looking forward to a ride in due course.

In the evening Angela and I celebrated our Silver Wedding anniversary with a quiet dinner for two.
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