Brexit and Foreign Affairs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:20 pm on 26th June 2017.

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Photo of Stephen Gethins Stephen Gethins Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Affairs and Europe) 7:20 pm, 26th June 2017

I thank the, at the moment, former Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee for that intervention, but what he makes clear and what we came to a collective decision on was that this will be damaging for the UK. It is damage that we are causing to ourselves, and that we can do something about it. We are willing to compromise. The Scottish Government’s publication, “Scotland’s Place in Europe”, provided a route towards a mid-way option. That openness, despite the fact that Scotland and my constituents voted overwhelmingly to remain part of the EU, shows the way we have to go.

I want to touch briefly on a couple of other issues apart from Europe. We are undergoing the worst refugee crisis in European terms and global displacement stands at almost 60 million people—its highest ever level. UK foreign policy must bear some responsibility, and I am sure that the Foreign Secretary will reflect on some of the measures that we should be taking. Not least, we have those fleeing conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the open door that is the failed state in Libya. In Syria, which is so closely linked to the refugee crisis, we need a coherent, long-term strategy. With regard to Yemen, we on the SNP Benches will continue to ask questions about arms sales to those involved in the conflict.

I was glad to hear Mr Whittingdale mention Ukraine. With regard to Russia, we must continue to work with our European partners, not least in relation to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, the Caucasus and elsewhere. I am grateful to him for making those points.