[9th Allotted Day]

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Act – in the House of Commons at 5:57 pm on 15th January 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Work and Pensions) 5:57 pm, 15th January 2019

I wish to set out why I will vote against the Prime Minister’s deal. I start from the position of respecting the result of the EU referendum in Scotland. The people of Scotland resoundingly rejected the idea of Brexit. According to the polls, they continue to reject Brexit and the Prime Minister’s deal in even greater numbers. And no wonder: it has all been about self-interest for this Prime Minister and the Tory party. She triggered article 50 without a plan. She held a snap general election for her own self- interest, but lost her majority. She ignored the Scottish Government’s offer of a compromise, which would have carried the House. She set herself red lines aimed at satisfying her extreme Brexiteer Back Benchers, but that boxed her into an impossible corner and left her facing a no-confidence vote anyway.

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, which is why the biggest mistake was triggering article 50 when the Prime Minister had not done her homework. She tipped the hourglass with no plan, no idea and no backing. Today—two years on—as the sands start to run out, nothing has changed. She has no credible plan, no idea and no backing. Now she is trying to make it a Hobson’s choice in order to deflect from the politically inconvenient choices that do remain open to us. She should request an extension to article 50 to allow the people to have their say.

The Tory leadership is not the only one to have acted purely out of self-interest in this process. The Leader of the Opposition wants to renegotiate Brexit, but will not say what he would renegotiate. He wants a general election, but no plan to achieve one, and he will not say what his Brexit policy would be. He cannot decide whether to back another EU referendum, and does not know if he would campaign for leave or remain.

It could have been so different. On BBC Radio Scotland this morning, Paul Masterton rightly encouraged the Prime Minister to ignore the extreme Brexiteers. Sadly, his very sensible advice was two years too late. The sands of time have moved on. Instead, the warnings of Brexit leading to a greater chance of independence are becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.