Power to notify withdrawal from the EU

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:00 pm on 13th March 2017.

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Photo of Stephen Gethins Stephen Gethins Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe) 5:00 pm, 13th March 2017

This is a very timely debate about amendments that go to the heart of the situation in which we find ourselves. The Scottish National party has made it very clear that we want to see much more detailed reassurance—perhaps the odd detail or two from the Government—and that is where parliamentary scrutiny should have been involved. We should also be having a debate about the kind of country in which we want to live, and the kind of country that Scotland becomes and the United Kingdom becomes. That is where the amendment on EU nationals comes in.

The Secretary of State may have caught the First Minister’s statement earlier today, in which she made it very plain that this was not the situation in which we wanted to find ourselves. In fact, the Scottish Parliament voted by 92 votes to zero, across political parties, that we should look at ways of securing our relationship with Europe. It is a critical relationship that we have with our European partners, one that has an impact on, and benefits, each and every one of us; but, nearly nine months after the EU referendum, we still do not have that much in the way of detail from an increasingly clueless Government.

The most detailed response to the referendum so far came in the form of a compromise proposed by the Scottish Government just before Christmas. That compromise—let us not forget this—would have meant Scotland leaving the EU against its will to protect our place in the single market. It was a big compromise, and it took a lot from the Scottish National party to put it forward, especially given that Scotland had voted overwhelmingly to remain part of the European Union. We did it in order to protect jobs, the economy, and opportunities for young people and their environment in the face of a hard Tory Brexit.

The Fraser of Allander Institute has suggested that we could lose up to 80,000 jobs in Scotland alone as a result of the Government’s plans. We have a responsibility to protect those jobs, we have a responsibility to think about opportunities for young people, and we have a responsibility to think about the rights that we receive from our membership of the European Union. We have a responsibility not to just roll over in the face of a disastrous Tory plan.