Exiting the European Union: Meaningful Vote

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:59 pm on 11th December 2018.

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Photo of Ian Blackford Ian Blackford SNP Westminster Leader 2:59 pm, 11th December 2018

I want to make some progress, because I am aware that many people want to speak.

The Prime Minister should not have the ability simply to halt proceedings in the middle of a five-day debate. Our constituents and the rest of the world must be looking on aghast at what took place here yesterday. We now know that we might not get to vote on these substantive matters until 21 January—the last conceivable date for such a vote. The Prime Minister is trying to make this a binary choice between her deal and no deal. That is unacceptable and this House cannot let that happen. The Prime Minister cannot succeed. This is a complete dereliction of duty. Running scared from the truth, this Government have backed themselves into a corner and are refusing to take a road out. The Scottish National party has been firm: our position is that we want to remain in the European Union. We want to continue to enjoy the socio-economic benefits of working in partnership with nations right across the continent. We respect the fact that England and Wales voted to leave the European Union, but we ask the Government to respect the fact that Scotland did not.

It is now more notable than ever that this Government do not care about respecting the will of the people of Scotland. They do not care that £1,600 will be lost from the pockets of people across our country, that 80,000 jobs will be put at risk, or that our businesses, farmers and fishermen will be put at a differential disadvantage. The Tories think they can do whatever they want with Scotland and get away with it. Had the SNP been able to vote on the Prime Minister’s deal today, we would have voted it down. This deal will rob our country not just of economic opportunity but of stability. We in the SNP cannot countenance that. I want to put the Prime Minister on notice that the SNP will not, today or any other day, back her deal or any other deal that makes Scotland poorer.

While the Prime Minister travels around Europe today, she will be scrambling for fluff, for padding and for eloquent phrasing to appease those in her own party who are anxious about parliamentary sovereignty. They are not anxious about the economic future of the nations and regions of the UK. This is still a Tory battle of ideological motivations. Two years down the road, the Tories are sleepwalking into the abyss. They are fighting among themselves, distracted by rhetoric and avoiding reality. Fuelled by a desire to win the hearts and minds of her colleagues, the Prime Minister focuses her efforts on uniting her divided party rather than on protecting the rights and livelihoods of citizens across the country. This is an absolute mess, and the stakes are high.

Let us not lose sight of what is at risk. The eyes of the world are on this place. World leaders, our constituents, businesses and others watch on, holding their heads in their hands. It is incumbent on us all—each Member of Parliament here today—to recognise the severity of what has taken place over the past few weeks. We have a Prime Minister who inadvertently misled Parliament, who has been found in contempt of Parliament and who has snatched away Parliament’s right to vote, silencing our voices to save herself from the shackles of defeat.