European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:36 pm on 29th January 2019.

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Photo of Ian Blackford Ian Blackford SNP Westminster Leader 3:36 pm, 29th January 2019

Of course, we come to this place under the rules that have been laid down, and under the rules of elections in this country, the SNP won 35 of 59 Scottish seats at Westminster. That is a majority for the Scottish National party in this Parliament. The Conservatives can only dream of having a majority. The Prime Minister went to the country on the basis that she would come back with an overwhelming majority; she came back with a bloody nose and a minority Administration who rely on the votes of the Democratic Unionist party, having handed over vast sums of money to keep themselves in any kind of power.

Today, as the Prime Minister faces a vote on her motion, the threat of resignations overshadow the debate. We know that senior Ministers have refused to rule out resigning if no deal is not taken off the table. Politicians play a slow game, and time is running out for businesses. The Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Richard Harrington said that the Prime Minister’s attempt to put pressure on moderate MPs to back her deal in order to avoid a disorderly Brexit was “a disaster for business”.

The chief executive of Airbus, Tom Enders, said the business

“could be forced to redirect future investments” in the event of no deal. The chief executive of Siemens, Jürgen Maier, said:

“The thing all of us won’t be able to manage is a no-deal” and now the British Retail Consortium warns of food shortages and empty shelves.

Just dwell on this: Sainsbury’s, Asda, Marks and Spencer, the Co-op, Waitrose and Costcutter all warn of not having sufficient supplies, and of shelves lying empty. We are used to seeing images of empty shelves in war-torn or failing states, but there is a real threat of empty shelves in the United Kingdom in less than two months. Still the Prime Minister refuses to take no deal off the table. I point the finger of blame at the Prime Minister and her Government. The primary responsibility of any Government is to protect their citizens. We have a massive failure of leadership. If there are shortages of food and medicine, that will be a response to the failures of this Government. There is genuine, heartfelt fear and alarm from some of our biggest businesses.