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[2nd day]

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 1:14 pm on 1st February 2017.

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Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (International Affairs and Europe) 1:14 pm, 1st February 2017

Yes, I would agree, but of course if we are all in the soup, finding out that it was the Prime Minister’s responsibility will avail this country very little. It is far better to try to ensure by our votes that we get a realistic choice that can actually make a difference.

Finally, I come to the situation in Scotland. Scotland has a 1,000-year history as a European nation. There is a plaque to Sir William Wallace in great Westminster Hall, the site of his unjust trial—for which, presumably, he will get a pardon at some point soon. After his greatest victory in the battle of Stirling bridge, which was akin to Leicester City winning the premier league last season, in terms of upset and surprise, his first act was not to hold a cèilidh, but to write to the Hanseatic League in Lübeck and elsewhere to secure Scotland’s trading concessions throughout Europe. The importance of Scotland’s European connections stretches back a millennium, and we are not going to allow this non-vision—this act of madness from this House—to take Scotland out of those connections.

The Scottish Government have put forward the proposition, “Scotland’s Place in Europe”, which offers the Prime Minister a way for Scotland to stay in the single marketplace, regardless of what she wants to do to this country. She said today that a frictionless border in Ireland was quite possible under the circumstances, without realising that if it is possible in Ireland, it is of course possible in Scotland. I see Stephen Crabb nodding; in the early hours of this morning, I think I saw him, or perhaps it was one of his hon. Friends, say much the same thing on the BBC’s “HARDtalk”—a sad case, watching “HARDtalk” at 1 o’clock in the morning—and it was an important admission. Actually, it was Mr Raab. It is important to understand that there are examples in Europe at present.

The Prime Minister has it within her power and capacity to accept the Scottish Government’s compromise proposals and allow Scotland as a nation to retain its trading place in the European context. If that is not to happen; if the House says, “We will go ahead with a hard, Tory Brexit,” or a full English Brexit, as we are now calling it in Scotland, and says, “We’re going to sweep aside concerns from across the House about the economic and political damage, and we will not accept the proposals from Scotland to follow the votes of the people in the nation of Scotland and retain their European connection. We are not interested in preserving Scottish jobs and investment”; if those are the criteria and that is the attitude of the Government; if that is what the Prime Minister wants to do with Scotland, and she is determined to throw down that gauntlet, she can be absolutely sure that Nicola Sturgeon, as First Minister, will pick it up.