[7th Allotted Day]

Part of Points of Order – in the House of Commons at 10:43 am on 11th January 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Peter Grant Peter Grant Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union) 10:43 am, 11th January 2019

I am grateful finally to get the chance to contribute to this debate. I am in a bit of an unusual position—I think I am speaking on day six of a five-day debate, which is a privilege not granted to many.

I appreciate the chance to remind the House of some of the reasons—only some of them, because we have only four hours left and others want to speak—why Scotland cannot and will not accept this deal or anything closely resembling it. For me and a great many of my fellow Scots, probably the most damaging and pernicious feature of this entire deal is the very thing the Prime Minister chose to list as its single biggest benefit. When she emailed all 650 MPs ahead of the original withdrawal agreement debate, what did she choose to put right at the top of her list of reasons for supporting the agreement? The fact that it would mean an end to the free movement of people.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department confirmed that today. Despite his protestations, there were howls of protest from Conservative Back Benchers when my hon. Friend Pete Wishart made the same point yesterday. I find it astonishing that, given the Environment Secretary’s comments yesterday, the party in government seems more concerned about the welfare and free movement of racehorses than about the welfare and free movement of people. The Conservative party believes that ending the free movement of people is the best aspect of this deal. I beg to differ.

In fact, if end the free movement of people were all the agreement did, that in itself would be more than sufficient reason to consign it to the dustbin. I see young parents in my constituency in tears because the Scotland they have come to know and love as their home—the Scotland that made them so welcome—will not be allowed to give the same welcome to their families. I see our precious health and social care services, on which members of my family rely right now, plunged into crisis because the British Government are deliberately making it harder for them to recruit the staff they need. I see my home country, which is known throughout the world as one of the most welcoming and hospitable on the planet, being dragged into a mire of xenophobic, small-minded isolationism by a governing party that has been resoundingly rejected in every election my country has seen during my 58 years on planet Earth. When I see those things, the only response I can give with any kind of conscience is that I will resist the agreement with every cell in my body and for every second that I am granted to remain in this life.

If our people had been told the truth in 2014—if they had been told that the price of continuing to be governed from London would be being part of this vile policy—there would be 59 fewer Members of this Parliament and the national Parliament of Scotland would be exercising full sovereignty as a full partner member of the European Union family.

Members on both sides of the House should look themselves in the mirror and examine their consciences carefully. Is it not utterly despicable that some people set out in 2014 deliberately to target EU nationals, who had the right to vote in our referendum because that was the right thing to do, and say, “You’ve got to vote to be ruled by Westminster because otherwise your future as EU citizens in Scotland could be under threat,” but those EU nationals then saw the rights they enjoyed and expected their families to enjoy taken away from them as a result of a decision their home country voted against in a referendum they were banned from taking part in? I really wonder how some people in this place can sleep peacefully at night.