Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:11 am on 29th November 2018.

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Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitution), Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons, Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee 11:11 am, 29th November 2018

I thank the Leader of the House for announcing the business for next week. Given that it is St Andrew’s day tomorrow, I say to you, Mr Speaker: lang may yer lum reek.

It is coming at last, a bit like Christmas without Santa or the festivities, and with everybody just that bit poorer: yes, Brexit vote day is almost here, with a generous five days to debate the so-called meaningful vote on the Government’s Brexit deal, which has about as much chance of getting through as I have of becoming Lord Speaker or a Church of England bishop. It is already a diseased deal. Like the great Norwegian blue parrot, this is a deal that will not even be pining for the Norwegian fjords. It will not even be pining for a Norway-plus deal. This deal, like that great comic parrot of yore, has just about squawked its last and is about to go and meet its maker.

The only question is how we do all this. I am grateful to the Leader of the House for her response about how the votes are going to progress: the process will follow the Procedure Committee’s recommendation that amendments are taken first. Will she confirm that it will not be a binary choice between the devil and the deep blue sea, and that an amended motion, if that is what the House wants, will be put to the House on 11 December? We need to know exactly what is going to be in line before we start the debate next week.

It now looks likely that the European Court of Justice—an institution so beloved of many of my Brexiter friends on the Government Benches—will judge that the UK and the Government can unilaterally halt article 50. Are we now, then, beginning to get to the stage at which we can start to abandon this madness and retain the living standards that we all enjoy and the access that we have to our friends in Europe?

Lastly, the Prime Minister is trailing round the country trying to drum up support for her already doomed deal. Yesterday, she was in Scotland, drumming up opposition to her deal: opposition to it in Scotland now stands at almost 70%. Scotland has been ignored and disrespected for the two long years of this process, and the Government have not even started to address our concerns. In the next few days, we will consider this almost pointless debate about a meaningless vote for which the conclusion has already been reached. We on the Scottish National party Benches will never support any arrangement that makes our country poorer.