1st Allotted Day

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Act – in the House of Commons at 8:03 pm on 4th December 2018.

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Photo of Ian Blackford Ian Blackford SNP Westminster Leader 8:03 pm, 4th December 2018

I respectfully say to the hon. Gentleman that we have to take that argument on. Migration has enriched us. Scotland’s population has barely grown over the past 100 years. We have gone from 4.8 million to just over 5 million people. If we do not have access to the free movement of people, we will be unable to deliver sustainable economic growth. I again say respectfully to the hon. Gentleman that thousands of Poles have come to work in Scotland over the past few years, and I say to each and every one of them who may be watching tonight, “You are welcome.” They are welcome because of the contribution that they make to our lives, our culture and our economy. The thought that we would take up the drawbridge and prevent people from coming to participate in the growth of the future of our country is, quite frankly, repugnant. I will fight along with my colleagues to ensure that we remain an open society and that we can continue to be enriched by those who want to come, live and contribute to our economy. They are welcome and will remain welcome.

In April 1988, when the single market campaign began, one prominent speaker stated:

“A single market without barriers—visible or invisible—giving you direct and unhindered access to the purchasing power of over 300 million of the world's wealthiest and most prosperous people... We are putting the European Community to work for ordinary people: for cheaper air fares, for more and better services, for consumer choice and product safety.”

That was Margaret Thatcher. Even Margaret Thatcher recognised that shared markets, collaboration and partnership in Europe was in all our interests.

Many people may be puzzled as to why I begin by expressing the sentiment and not the content of the Government’s motion, but I do so because it is right. It is right to remember the real loss that we all will feel. That loss is down not simply to this deal or any other, but to the fact that any deal will mean a loss to our economy, our society and our children. The SNP has long argued and continues to believe that staying in the European Union is the best option for Scotland and, indeed, for all parts of the United Kingdom. When I hear the Prime Minister say that if we vote down this deal or no deal, that means staying in the European Union, I say, “Yes, please.”

There is no option that will be better for our economy, for jobs and for our communities than staying in the EU. It is the height of irresponsibility for any Government to bring forward a proposition that will make their people poorer and mean that people will lose their jobs. We heard earlier from the previous Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, that the warning on jobs was part of project fear, but let us look at the reality and at what we already know: 1,000 jobs lost from the European Banking Authority and 1,000 jobs lost from the European Medicines Agency. That is not project fear. That is the reality, and it has already happened.