European Council

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:43 pm on 17th December 2018.

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Photo of Ian Blackford Ian Blackford SNP Westminster Leader 3:43 pm, 17th December 2018

I thank the Prime Minister for advance sight of her statement.

I have to ask, “Where is the leadership?”—a phrase that is often used. We thought that the Prime Minister had reached rock bottom, but she is still digging. We have four sitting days left in this place before the Christmas recess. We are then left with the narrow window, when we return in January, to find a way forward out of the Government’s Brexit timetable. It cannot be done.

After two years of negotiation, the Prime Minister has designed a deal that she knows she cannot deliver. It does not have the support of this House. It is time to call time on this Government. They are a laughing stock. Companies and their workers do not know if we are going to crash out of the European Union in three months’ time. We have just over 100 days to prepare for the risk of a no-deal outcome that most sensible folk would reject as unacceptable.

The Prime Minister is playing a game of brinkmanship. The European Council President, Donald Tusk, was clear when he said:

“I have no mandate to organise any further negotiations.”

What more does the Prime Minister need to hear to know that her deal is dead? This is embarrassing. The Prime Minister might be prepared to be embarrassed by this shambles, but the rest of us are not. Parliament needs to take control of this situation and seek to find a solution that prevents a risk to jobs and prosperity. It is the people of our countries that we are talking about.

Today the Prime Minister tells us that there are no other options. That is not the case. Standing before Parliament ruling out another referendum on EU membership is an act of desperation from the Prime Minister. Knowing that she cannot get her own deal through this place, she wants to silence debate. Having taken away Parliament’s voice—our right to a meaningful vote—she now wants us to take away the right of the people to vote: their democratic right to have their say; their democratic right to change their mind.

I plead with the Prime Minister to put all options back on the table. Stop operating in isolation; reach out and speak to the Opposition parties. We all have a responsibility to protect our citizens. It is time to move beyond the narrow party politics with which this place operates; it is time to operate in the interests of all our nations. I ask her to bring forward the meaningful vote on her deal before the Christmas recess. There is no reason to delay. Let us have that meaningful vote this week.

Lastly, will the Prime Minister do the right thing and meet me and other Opposition party leaders this week, collectively? This is the true test of this Government’s word. If we are to believe that we are a partnership of equals, then now, today, we must be heard.