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Leaving the Eu: Customs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:34 pm on 16th May 2018.

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Photo of Stephen Gethins Stephen Gethins Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Affairs and Europe) 6:34 pm, 16th May 2018

Today’s debate reflects the seriousness of the situation in which we have been left. We still have no idea about the Government’s plan for what is next on customs. Rachel Maclean, who is no longer in her place, mentioned groundhog day. It is certainly groundhog day when, two years on, we are still asking: what is the customs plan? We are still asking questions about what the Government plan to do next. This issue is not about this place and it is not about openness; it is about businesses being able to plan, it is about universities being able to plan, it is about individuals being able to plan.

At the moment, we are left with a form of Kremlinology, whereby we have to read between the lines to try to figure out what might be coming next. We have a stale Government with a past-her-sell-by-date leader. She is rolled out to paper over the cracks of a Government infighting behind the scenes. To be fair to the Foreign Secretary, he makes Kremlinology slightly easier by describing the Prime Minister’s own plans as “crazy”. Astonishingly, he is still in post.

What is not crazy are the challenges facing businesses. We know the economic analysis tells us that tens of thousands of jobs will be lost. GDP will be devastated, which means that income for public services will be devastated. We have so many outstanding questions, and not just on customs. What happens to immigration? What happens to research from which we all benefit? What happens to EU nationals?

It is clear that this is not going very well for the Government. If it is not going very well for the Government, then unfortunately it is not going very well for Scotland or any other part of the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland where this means so much and should be taken so much more seriously.