EU Withdrawal Agreement

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 18th December 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows SNP Whip, Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Small Business, Enterprise and Innovation) 3:31 pm, 18th December 2018

It is a pleasure to follow Anna Soubry. I congratulate my party leader, my right hon. Friend Ian Blackford, on securing this important debate.

The Prime Minister has yet again returned from Brussels with no progress made in stopping her disastrous Brexit plan. She is clinging to the life raft from her sinking ship while her Cabinet plot against her. The Cabinet Office Secretary is having meetings with Opposition MPs to try to find consensus. The Foreign Secretary has said publicly that it will not be possible to get a version of the Prime Minister’s deal passed in this place. The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions urges the Prime Minister’s Government to try something different because she thinks Parliament is currently headed towards no compromise, no agreement and no deal. The EU is not shifting and has said that the withdrawal agreement is not up for renegotiation.

The Prime Minister is impervious to all of this and is continuing to push her deal on this Parliament and the UK, despite the fact that she knows it will not be voted through. She is ignoring the effect of her actions: sterling is plunging, as are stock prices and growth, but that does not seem to register with her. The Prime Minister’s Brexit uncertainty is a nightmare for our constituents and local businesses.

I represent a constituency that voted decisively to remain. Businesses want certainty, but they face the prospect of a Government going into emergency planning mode, and they have been given no direction from the Government. Small and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of our economy, and they will face an especially difficult time. In the Budget, the SNP called for an office to be set up to support all SMEs in navigating new customs arrangements. The UK Government have done almost nothing to clarify the business environment for SMEs and are not helping them to plan for the worst, despite their commitment to do so.

The Prime Minister has stood at the Dispatch Box repeatedly to defend her indefensible deal. She has pulled the meaningful vote until 14 January, in the vain hope that she can wear down those who oppose it. All options, other than staying in the EU, will be damaging, and the UK public certainly did not vote for an outcome that is bad for the economy and their families.

We in Parliament must be allowed to come together before 14 January to defeat the deal and to move forward. There is no majority for anything except defeating the Prime Minister’s deal. We need to acknowledge that Westminster’s two-party system is broken and Parliament is now a place of factions, not parties. There should be a people’s vote. Things have changed in the past two years: there are serious doubts about the conduct of the referendum, there was no clarity about the consequences of leaving the EU and there is serious doubt about the legality of funding. People have a much clearer idea of the consequences of leaving the EU and they should be allowed to vote with that much clearer understanding.

Her Majesty’s Opposition have tabled a motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister, a symbolic action only. My right hon. Friend Ian Blackford, along with the leaders of the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Green party, has tabled an amendment, which calls for a vote of no confidence in the UK Government, to Labour’s vote of no confidence. I call on the Labour party to move us all forward on a vote of no confidence in the Government.

In July 2016, the Prime Minister stood on the steps of Downing Streets and said:

“We are living through an important moment in our country’s history. Following the referendum, we face a time of great national change.”

We now also face a time of great national uncertainty.