European Council

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:43 pm on 14th March 2017.

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Photo of Angus Robertson Angus Robertson Deputy Leader, Scottish National Party, Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader 12:43 pm, 14th March 2017

I thank the Prime Minister for advance notice of her statement. I agree with her about how valuable it was that a large part of the EU Council was given over to jobs, growth and competitiveness. That is hugely welcome for the whole of the UK. It really matters that there is economic growth across all 27 member states. The single European market matters to all of us, given it is the largest single market in the world.

The last time the Prime Minister came to the Dispatch Box following an EU Council meeting, I asked her what issues she had raised on behalf of the Scottish Government and their priorities. She could not give a single example then, so I am going to try the same question again. Given that this was the last EU Council before the invoking of article 50, can she give an example—just one, please—of a single issue that was raised on behalf of the Scottish Government and their priorities at the Council meeting? [Interruption.] Goodness, there is a lot of hubbub from the Government Benches on this issue. Perhaps they are also keen to hear from the Prime Minister on that. She did not make a single mention during her statement of what she raised on behalf of the Scottish Government. We will all wait with bated breath to hear the Prime Minister answer that question.

While the Prime Minister was in Brussels, what discussions did she have about her Brexit timetable? Can she confirm that the plan is to negotiate a deal and that, after that, there needs to be time—time for ratification and for agreement across the EU and its institutions? Will she confirm from the Dispatch Box that that is indeed her plan?

The Prime Minister has decided, for one reason or another—I cannot imagine why—to delay the invoking of article 50. Last July, we were told by the Prime Minister herself—I am sure that she remembers saying these very words—that she would not trigger article 50 until she had a “UK-wide approach”. She knows that she has no agreement with the devolved Administration, despite months of compromise suggestions from the Scottish Government. Will the UK Government, even at this very late stage, use the next days to secure a compromise UK-wide approach, or does she still plan to plough on regardless, even though she knows what the consequences of that will mean?