Leaving the EU

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:47 pm on 9th July 2018.

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Photo of Ian Blackford Ian Blackford SNP Westminster Leader 3:47 pm, 9th July 2018

I thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of her statement. I share the sentiments in her remarks about Dawn Sturgess. The Prime Minister knows the commitment of the SNP to work with her when it comes to important matters of national security.

I should start by congratulating the departing Secretary of State for Exiting the EU on the whole four hours that he spent negotiating in Brussels and wish all the luck in the world to his replacement—he is going to need it. Then there is the departing Foreign Secretary. He should not have been allowed to resign; he should have been sacked for being a national embarrassment.

The Prime Minister’s proposals represent at best a starting point—a cherry-picking starting point. It is hard to believe that it has taken the Prime Minister two years to put together a proposal—two years to put it together and two days for the Cabinet to fall apart. There is, I believe, a majority in the House of Commons for staying in the single market and the customs union, so will the Prime Minister work with the rest of us to make sure that we can deliver on staying in the customs market and the single market, to deliver what is in the best interests of all our people? Will she stop kowtowing to her hard Brexiteers who are prepared to accept economic self-harm and the loss of jobs? Will she recognise that she now has to take on her extreme Brexiteers and work in the national interest of all the nations in the United Kingdom?

The Prime Minister’s proposed facilitated customs arrangement has been called the “fudge of the century” by one senior EU official. The response from EU negotiators has been to see if the proposals are “workable” and “realistic”. I would not hold my breath. In her piece in The Daily Telegraph today, the Prime Minister has again noted that the UK Government continue to prepare for no deal. That is simply outrageous. To put the economy and jobs in such peril is a complete failure of leadership.

The absolute crisis that has engulfed the Conservative party over the past 17 hours is a national embarrassment. As the UK inches closer to the cliff-edge scenario, we see a Government in chaos and a Prime Minister struggling to lead her party—never mind her Government—and there have been seven resignations since the election a year ago. The Prime Minister must see sense and accept the mounting evidence against a hard Brexit raised by Opposition parties, the business community and the devolved Administrations. Will she work with the rest of us to stay in the customs union and the single market to protect jobs and ensure prosperity?