ANYONE who can read between the lines on Brexit will know that the deal which Boris Johnson apparently wants with the European Union will in no way be final.

If the Withdrawal Agreement is eventually accepted by both sides that will be just the start of years of horse trading as new agreements are put into place, preferably without destroying Scotland’s economy first.

It almost seems like poetic justice that the man who will be overseeing the future of EU trade is an Irish commissioner whose antipathy to Brexit has been made clear.

They call him Big Phil Hogan, and he is a politician used to the hurly burly of Irish and European politics having been a leading member of the Fine Gael party and a European Commissioner for the last few years. The European Commission (EC) announced his designation as commissioner for trade yesterday.

The EC described him thus: “Phil Hogan (Ireland), the incumbent Commissioner for Agriculture, will bring his experience to the new Commission in the trade portfolio.”

Hogan is unusual in that he is a career politician rather than an academic or technocrat.

The Irish Times was almost gleeful in announcing his appointment: “Hogan has been an outspoken critic of Brexiteers, repeatedly warning about the consequences of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.”

As recently as last month, he said a No-Deal Brexit would create a “foul atmosphere” between the EU and the UK and would have “serious consequences” for negotiating any future trade agreement – negotiations he will now oversee. “

The man himself sounded a conciliatory note yesterday, the Irish Times quoting him saying: “I remain hopeful that the penny is finally dropping with the UK that there are pragmatic and practical solutions can actually be introduced into the debate at this stage – albeit at the eleventh hour – that may find some common ground between the EU and the UK.”

The National:

The smallest EU countries are on the top table

AS well as Malta and Ireland, countries such as Latvia, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Estonia all have populations much smaller than that of Scotland but all are getting the chance to nominate a Commissioner to join the new European Commission.

The new Commission-designate was announced yesterday by EC President-elect Ursula von der Leyen.

It includes executive vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis of Latvia who will coordinate the work on an “Economy that Works for People” and be the Commissioner for financial services, supported by the Directorate-General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union.

Other nominees include Stella Kyriakides of Cyprus who is a medical psychologist with many years of experience in the field of social affairs, health and cancer prevention. She will lead the EC’s Health portfolio.

Nicolas Schmit of Luxembourg is bringing his experience from the European Parliament and his service as national Minister for Employment and Labour, and will now be responsible for the jobs portfolio.

Slovenia’s Janez Lenarcic is a diplomat. He was Secretary of State for European Affairs, and worked closely for several years with the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the European Union.

He will be in charge of crisis management.

Kadri Simson (Estonia) is a long-serving member of the Estonian parliament and Minister for Economic Affairs and Infrastructure.

She will be in charge of the energy portfolio.

The National:

Malta minister to promote equality

IT was confirmed yesterday that Malta, the EU state with a population the size of Edinburgh’s, will have a European Commissioner with the important task of promoting equality across the Union.

According to the EC, former Maltese cabinet minister Helena Dalli has “dedicated her political life to equality, serving as Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties, and also as a Minister for European Affairs and Equality. She will lead the ‘Equality’ portfolio.”

Dalli is generally credited with transforming the culture of Malta into a country that is renowned for promoting equal rights.

Malta’s popular Prime Minister Joseph Muscat lobbied for her designation with the President-elect of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

The Maltese Government stated: “Dr Dalli will be the first female Commissioner nominated by Malta since the country’s accession to the EU. Dr Dalli will immediately resign from her ministerial post to focus on preparing for the hearing with the European Parliament. She will stay on as a Member of Parliament until her eventual confirmation.”

After she was announced yesterday as a Commissioner-designate, Dalli tweeted: “Honoured and humbled to be given the important portfolio of Equality. Thank you for your confidence President-elect von der Leyen. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Commission to mainstream equality across all areas.”

Muscat tweeted: “President elect @vonderleyen made the perfect choice with @helenadalli in charge of implementing an ambitious #equality agenda. Testament to Helena’s resolve and #Malta positive track record in this area. A @EU_Commission with gender parity will only be the starting point.”