Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

2nd Day

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:31 pm on 11th September 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Stephen Gethins Stephen Gethins Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Affairs and Europe) 4:31 pm, 11th September 2017

I shall come to both hon. Members shortly—they will have ample opportunity.

The Government’s approach was rejected in June, and we should all be mindful of the fact that what has been delivered in its place is a Parliament of minorities. That is commonplace at Holyrood. It is something that we had to get used to, and it is something that we shall all have to get used to. A Parliament of minorities is clearly a challenge for the Government, but it is a challenge for the Opposition as well, because we must all show that we are willing to work in a constructive way if the Government are willing to listen. That is not easy for us. The SNP remains committed to Scotland’s membership of the European Union. I want to see Scotland as an EU member state, and I am proud that Scotland voted overwhelmingly to support that. However, given the devastating impact of the Government's lack of strategy, it is up to this Parliament, and all parliamentarians, to step up to the mark.

The mess that we are in is not entirely the Government’s fault. I think that Vote Leave bequeathed that mess by presenting a blank piece of paper, which means that it is up to us to try to fill in those many, many blanks. Having said that, the Government have had five months since they triggered article 50 and 15 months since the EU referendum. Ministers bear culpability for the present situation, but Ministers who were part of Vote Leave bear particular culpability. For instance, there is the Secretary of State’s own yardstick:

“I would expect the new Prime Minister on September 9th to immediately trigger a…round of trade deals”.

Where are they? In the face of such chaos, all Members have a responsibility—each and every one of us. We need to put our differences to one side.

There is scope to do that, as we have put together a compromise. On this anniversary of devolution, I want to pay tribute to the Labour party and Plaid Cymru, which were able to put aside their differences and to try to come up with a common position. I know it was not easy for Members of both parties to do it, but they did, and full credit to them both for doing so. The Scottish Government put together a committee of experts to come up with a compromise, and I note that in the aftermath of the referendum—here is the cue for Conservative Members—Scottish Labour and the Scottish Conservatives called for retaining membership of the single market. In fact, the Scottish Conservative leader—who knows, maybe the future Westminster Conservative leader—said:

“Retaining our place in the single market should be the overriding priority.”

I would certainly hope that Ruth Davidson’s Conservatives will do the right thing and stand by their leader. I wonder if they are Ruth Davidson’s Conservatives or Theresa May’s Conservatives when it comes to this—they are staying seated, saying nothing whatsoever.

The Bill also represents one of the biggest power grabs that we have seen. I note that one MP said—