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[2nd day]

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:21 pm on 1st February 2017.

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Photo of Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Trade and Investment) 6:21 pm, 1st February 2017

We have here a referendum that Scotland did not want, a Government that Scotland did not vote for and a result that does not reflect the wishes of the people of Scotland. This Government, whose stated policy was to keep us in the single market, are taking us towards the Brexit door at breakneck speed. Government Members have been waxing lyrical over the past couple of days about this wonderful opportunity we have had to debate this issue—since yesterday—but I remind them that they had to be taken to court to give us this opportunity, they spent an awful lot of money trying to prevent this debate from happening in the first place and they had to be forced into coming up with a White Paper. Suffice it to say, the Government are not handling Brexit very well at all.

As with the disastrous policy to pursue the ideologically driven austerity at all costs, this Government are pursuing Brexit at all costs. As many of my SNP colleagues have said, we were told during our referendum that Scotland should vote to keep Scotland in the EU. The people of Scotland have not forgotten the promises made, and the other side are going to have to come up with some answers. When David Cameron gave his first keynote speech of the campaign some two years ago, he talked of the UK having one of the most stable currencies in the world and said that that stability was “hugely attractive for investors”. He spoke about us having “real clout” in Europe. If David Cameron was right, we have gone from being a country at the centre of Europe to one at its periphery, and from demonstrating solidarity with our great allies in France, Germany and beyond, to begging for scraps from the table of President Trump. That is a distasteful downward spiral if ever there was one.

It is not simply that we are seeking to walk away from the table; many Government Members seem intent on burning our bridges on the way out. They seem to have forgotten the language they have used through this entire debate about the EU nationals; they think those people are a drain on this country, yet they want to do deals with their Governments. For goodness’ sake, what sort of negotiations are they going to enter into on that basis?

Tonight, I will therefore be joining my excellent SNP colleagues and some Labour Members in voting against this Bill. I will do so because that is what the majority of my constituents want, because Scotland was promised continued EU membership if we remained in the UK and because this Government are attempting to leave the EU in a haphazard and reckless way, without regard to the constitutional, social or economic consequences. We are not prepared to let them take Scotland over that cliff with them.