[6th Allotted Day]

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Act – in the House of Commons at 1:33 pm on 10th January 2019.

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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 1:33 pm, 10th January 2019

May I start by saying to the Secretary of State that we were all distressed when we heard the news of his son’s accident over Christmas, and we wish him all the best for his recovery? We do, of course, enjoy the right hon. Gentleman at the Dispatch Box. That was a bravura performance—such a comedy turn. He referenced Tommy Cooper. I think of him more as a Frank Carson, because it’s the way he tells ’em, Mr Deputy Speaker.

The line that I enjoyed best—it was the way he told it—was the one where he said that the EU “will look on enviously at the UK with this Brexit.” That was the best killer line in that speech, because we can almost hear the shrieks of laughter coming across the North sea and the English channel as they observe the plight of this pitiful nation. They are not envious of us; they are feeling sorry for us because we have ended in this pitiful state. If any of them were even thinking of following the United Kingdom’s example, they will look at this chaotic Government and decide, “Never in a million years will we do that.” It is the best lesson to any other nation never, ever to engage in such an action.

I loathe the Government’s Brexit—I loathe it totally and utterly, from the self-defeating, isolating ugliness of the project to the all-consuming, chaotic humourlessness, to the disgusting way that they are treating the 3.6 million EU nationals who are among our friends, our colleagues and our family members. I despair at what we are doing. I will observe and look at their Brexit deal, but I see no redeeming qualities or features to what this Government are doing with this absurd Brexit. The fact that my country so overwhelmingly rejected this Brexit makes me despair even more of what this Government are doing.

The only reason, the Government tell us, that we should be supporting this paltry document is because it is better than a no deal. My big toe is better than a no deal; my broken finger is better than a no deal, but I am not asking the House to support either of these personal artefacts. What vision! What ambition! Vote for the Prime Minister’s deal because it is better than no deal! That is the only reason that we seem to be given, in successive speeches by Government supporters and Ministers, for why we should be doing this.