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[2nd day]

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:08 pm on 1st February 2017.

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Photo of Tommy Sheppard Tommy Sheppard Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 6:08 pm, 1st February 2017

I completely agree. That is another fine example of why we should not get on the bus until we know what the destination is. We on these Benches are determined not to do that, but we are also determined to argue about what the destination should be.

My colleagues have talked about the Scottish Government’s report on Scotland’s place in Europe post-Brexit, and I recommend that colleagues in the Chamber spend 15 or 20 minutes reading it. It might just surprise them. It has been published by a Government who believe in an independent Scotland and in an independent nation within the European Union, yet the document argues for neither of those things. It is a massive compromise, an olive branch, and an attempt to create good will and to say that we must try to find unity and consensus in this post-Brexit world. What that means, however, is that one size does not fit all in a country of this size. It means that there should be differential arrangements in Scotland for what happens next, for two simple reasons. First, the consequences of Brexit will be materially different in Scotland. Secondly, the attitude of the people and the electorate in Scotland is different. This Government can do this; they can accommodate the wishes of the Scottish Government and the Scottish people and achieve a situation in which there is some sort of sense to things, post-Brexit, and in which the views of the people of Scotland are respected.

Colleagues have mentioned the fact that this debate is not without context in Scotland. In 2014, at the time of the Scottish referendum, we were promised two things. First, we were told that the best way to keep our European passports was to vote to stay in the United Kingdom. Secondly, we were promised that a vote to stay in the United Kingdom would mean that the views of Scotland would not be diluted or absorbed into those of our bigger neighbour to the south, but would be respected. The Government say that Brexit means Brexit. Let us see, in the months to come, whether respect means respect.