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October EU Council

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:51 pm on 22nd October 2018.

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Photo of Ian Blackford Ian Blackford SNP Westminster Leader 4:51 pm, 22nd October 2018

I thank the Prime Minister for advance notice of her statement today. I share with her the remarks that she made about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, but may I say that the time has come to take action against Saudi Arabia? Prime Minister, stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Do it today.

Rarely have I listened to a prime ministerial statement with such stony faces. Prime Minister, I have some advice: if you are looking for support, do not look behind you. The Prime Minister returns to the House today from Brussels utterly humiliated. As the clock ticks down, with just a few short months before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU and with Chequers shredded, the UK has no plan to break the impasse and no plan as we head ever closer to the cliff edge. Why? Because the Prime Minister is humiliated and hamstrung by the extreme Brexiteers in her own party.

The EU 27 speak with one clear voice; the Conservative Government squabble among themselves. The divisions within the Tory party are paralysing the UK Government. The extreme Brexiteers on the Government Benches are holding the UK to ransom, leading us all to the brink of a catastrophic no deal.

The Prime Minister comes before us today with nothing but jargon and rhetoric. It is crystal clear that the EU will not accept any deal that does not include the backstop for Northern Ireland. Those who attempt to wreck the backstop will be responsible for the no deal Brexit. The EU is not bluffing.

The comments from Tory MPs in the papers this weekend, using crass and violent language in relation to the negotiations, are abhorrent and irresponsible. Those responsible need to withdraw them and apologise—[Interruption.] Such language has no part to play in our public discourse, and it is disappointing that when the threats of violence against the Prime Minister are talked about, all we hear is background noise and a lack of understanding of the seriousness of the situation. Those Members should be ashamed of themselves. Threats of violence against the Prime Minister or anyone else must be called out and those responsible must be held to account. The Prime Minister must face them down, and she will have our support in that.

The Prime Minister must act to protect jobs and living standards by ensuring that we stay in the customs union and the single market. No more games. I ask her to focus her attention now on securing a deal that delivers economic protection. Will she ensure that any extended transition period must be for a clear purpose and confirm to the House today that her Government will support the Northern Ireland backstop, to avoid a no deal Brexit? Will she also commit to giving the Scottish Parliament a say in the outcome of the negotiations?

Finally, may I ask the Prime Minister to make it her immediate objective to keep us in the single market and the customs union, to focus her attentions on that and to acknowledge that she will not get any deal through this Parliament that stops short of the economic protection of jobs and living standards?