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[1st Day]

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 4:20 pm on 21st June 2017.

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Photo of Ian Blackford Ian Blackford SNP Westminster Leader 4:20 pm, 21st June 2017

The hon. Gentleman has to speak to his Labour colleagues. If they want to stand up for the people of this country, they have to join the SNP in demanding that we remain members of the single market. That is the salient point.

The Queen’s Speech fails not only on minimising the impact of Brexit. It fails even harder on reversing the damage caused by almost a decade of austerity. For this Tory Government, austerity cuts are not simply a policy response to a particular economic situation. They are an ideology and a political choice. [Interruption.] I hear somebody shouting “nonsense”. Let me say politely to the Government that, in 2009, we embarked on a policy of quantitative easing. I suspect that all hon. Members supported the need to take monetary policy action in 2009. The situation now is that there has been £430 billion-worth of intervention in the markets. The point is that we have not taken the fiscal measures to deliver sustainable economic growth that had to sit hand in hand with the monetary policy action. We have underpinned the financial markets as a direct consequence of quantitative easing. Those with assets have done well. The financial markets have increased by more than 70% over those years. The tragedy is that real wages have declined. The responsibility for economic management rests with the Government. We have not looked after the working people of this country but have ensured that those with financial assets have done very well. That is the specific charge, and why the Government can and must change course.

That political choice has put certain groups of people in the crosshairs, including working families, those on low incomes just managing to get by, and the disabled and vulnerable who rely on support from social security. I use that phrase for a clear purpose. In Scotland, we talk about social security, but the Government in London talk about welfare. That is why they have a problem. They do not realise that it is about the importance of that safety net. Our society is simply as strong as its weakest link.