[9th Allotted Day]

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Act – in the House of Commons at 2:32 pm on 15th January 2019.

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Photo of Ian Blackford Ian Blackford SNP Westminster Leader 2:32 pm, 15th January 2019

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and that is why I am appealing to every Member in the House to think about the people—about the people who have already lost their jobs, about the thousand people in the European Medicines Agency, about the thousand people in the European Banking Authority, about the workers at Jaguar Land Rover, who know that the Labour party today is not going to lift a finger to protect their economic interests. That is the reality: a party that was once of the people but is now sitting back and failing to accept its responsibilities. Thank goodness in Scotland we have an alternative.

The people of Scotland have watched everything that has gone on over the last two and half years. “Taking back control”, the Conservatives say. My goodness, they have taken back control from the Parliament of Scotland. When this House pushed through the withdrawal Act, it took back responsibility for fisheries, agriculture and the environment, which were laid down in the Scotland Act 1998 when the Parliament was established as devolved matters, and which were supposed to be protected by the Sewel convention. Nevertheless, the Government said, “These are not normal times”, and they grabbed back powers not so much from the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament, but from the people of Scotland, who had voted for it in the referendum 1997. That is the reality of the Conservatives, who have always been hostile to devolution.

Of course, we are told, “The people voted in 2016 and we should accept it”, but the people of Scotland were told in our referendum in 2014 that if we stayed in the UK our rights within the EU would be respected. The fact that 62% of the people of Scotland voted to stay in the EU is ignored by this Government. The fact that the Scottish Parliament has said we wish to stay, as a very minimum, in the single market and the customs union has been ignored by this Government. They have shown contempt for the institutions in Scotland and for the cross-party unity that existed on these matters in Scotland.

The time is coming when the people of Scotland will have to reflect on how we are being treated and ignored. The Scottish Parliament has a mandate for an independence referendum, and if and when the First Minister and the Scottish Government choose to enforce that mandate, this House will have to respect the wishes of the Scottish people. I hope tonight that this House votes down the Government’s deal and has the confidence to extend article 50 and to give the responsibility back to the people, but if the House is determined to push ahead with Brexit, the day will come when the people of Scotland will have to determine their own future—do we wish to be tied to a United Kingdom that is going to damage our economic interests, or will we accept our responsibilities as a historic, independent European nation? That day is coming and it is coming soon.