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[2nd day]

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:58 pm on 1st February 2017.

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Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Transport) 5:58 pm, 1st February 2017

Mr Allen, who is not in the Chamber at the moment, spoke about the future. The Bill will have huge impacts on future generations, affecting the prosperity of our children and our young men and women. That is thrown into particularly sharp focus in the highlands. For generations, young people left the highlands to seek further education and to seek their future, until we had a Scottish Parliament and benefited from the engagement of the European Union.

The University of the Highlands and Islands is celebrating 20 years of EU co-operation, which has allowed us to have that much-needed symbol in the Highlands—a physical university campus in Inverness. Among other things, our co-operation with Europe has helped to reverse the decline that I mentioned. So, too, have EU nationals, and I was struck by the words of Tulip Siddiq, because I agree that these people who come to our country to add to it are our friends and neighbours, and they deserve to be treated as such.

However, with the direction that the UK Government are taking, that all changes. The UK is scrabbling about for deals—any deals—with no stone unturned, no matter who is underneath it. Holding hands with Trump, legitimising his symbolic exclusion, his walls and his rising xenophobia, and shaking hands with Erdogan—all this is clearly saying that it is weapons before weans, dogma before doctorates. The alternative to a rock-hard Brexit is a change of course, if not for the UK, then for our universities, for people who will be put in a really difficult position, such as those in Gibraltar, and, of course, for Scotland, where 62% of people and 100% of council areas voted to remain. There is a choice for this Parliament.