Leaving the EU

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:44 pm on 26th November 2018.

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Photo of Ian Blackford Ian Blackford SNP Westminster Leader 3:44 pm, 26th November 2018

The Prime Minister’s deal means that Scotland is to be taken out of the European Union against our will, and out of the single market—a market that is about eight times the size of the UK’s. Scotland voted to remain; our rights must be respected. Leaving will rip away jobs, hit living standards and end freedom of movement—something that will make it harder for our precious NHS to attract and retain the staff that we need. Migration has been good for Scotland. The Prime Minister talks about queue-jumpers from Europe—an outrageous slur against EU citizens who come here—but blatantly disregards the rights that we will all lose to live and work in Europe. We are not prepared to give up those rights.

The Prime Minister’s deal carries no majority in this House and has split those on her own Benches. It means that a blindfold Brexit is now certain. There is no long-term agreement on our trading relationship with Europe; it is a deal full of ifs and buts. Crucially, here we are again with another sell-out of the Scottish fishing industry by a Tory Government. We have been here before: we were sold out by Ted Heath and we have been sold out repeatedly by Tory Governments. Under this agreement, fishing boats registered in Northern Ireland would continue to gain zero-tariff access to the EU and UK markets, but fishing boats registered in Scotland and other parts of the UK would not.

We now know that the EU will start negotiations based on existing quota shares. That is not taking back control of our waters; it is the EU exercising an effective veto. Scottish fishing communities have been duped once again by the Conservatives. The Scottish National party will not—we cannot—accept this sell-out by the Conservatives. I call upon the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to search their consciences, because their fingerprints are all over this.

The agreed declaration states that the transition period after leaving the EU could be extended by one or two years. Does the Prime Minister accept that that means that the UK would almost certainly be in the CFP with no voting rights for another one or two years, totally contrary to what the Scottish Secretary has said? The Prime Minister says the deal ends uncertainty. It does not end uncertainty for Scotland’s fishing sector or for the future state of the economy, which faces years of turbulence in a bureaucratic tangle.

There is talk of a Brexit TV debate. Will the Prime Minister debate with the First Minister of Scotland? The ways that Scotland’s interests have been dismissed by the UK Government throughout this process demonstrate the real cost of not being an independent country able to take our own decisions. The day will come when Scotland will be an independent country. We on the Scottish National party Benches will continue to work across parties to put in place a deal that works for Scotland and we will support another referendum on EU membership.