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

The Government like to talk about an implementation period, but what are they implementing? They only thing they have come forward with is a deal to leave the European Union. The relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union is to be left to the future, and there is no knowing how long that will take. According to the papers in front of us, it will supposedly happen within a two-year period, but many believe that it could take five years or perhaps even longer. There is no certainty with what the Government are bringing forward.

We have still not seen any economic assessment of the Government’s deal. Either the Prime Minister has not instructed her Government to conduct one, or they will not publish it due to the reality of the hardship that her deal will bring. We are being asked again to vote for a blindfold Brexit and to sleepwalk into the future without facts and analysis from the Government about what the deal means for our economy. It is an insult to this House and each and every Member in it.

I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question—I hope she reads this in Hansard, as she is not here. Will she publish the details of the impact of her deal on the economy, and contrast it with the status quo? The Government are refusing to end the shroud of secrecy and publish an economic analysis, but let me remind the House of the facts. Analysis by Scottish Government officials found that by 2030, under a free trade agreement, GDP would be £9 billion lower than it would have been if we had stayed in the EU—equivalent to £1,600 per person in Scotland. The Bank of England has warned that crashing out of the EU without a deal would be worse than the 2008 financial crisis, with house prices plummeting by as much as 30% and the Bank of England rate being hiked to 4%. Brexit uncertainty is already damaging our economy to the tune of £600 per household per year. Jobs and investment are at risk, and our economy is set to be weaker and smaller. How can any Member of this House countenance that?

We were elected to protect our citizens, not punish them, but Brexit will inflict undue pain across all parts of the United Kingdom. With this deal or no deal our constituents are set to suffer, and we cannot allow that to happen. Some Brexiteers argue that we will be okay without the internal markets of the EU. They are in cloud cuckoo land, harking back to the past. I say this to them: it is over.

Let us look at the facts. The UK’s trade with County Cork is worth almost as much as its entire trade with South Africa. Trade with Ireland is worth more to the UK than trade with India, Japan, New Zealand and Australia put together. As “Scotland’s Place in Europe” demonstrated, even if the UK signs agreements with the 10 biggest non-EEA single country trading partners, including the USA, China and Canada—a process that would take many years—that would cover only 37% of Scotland’s current exports. In contrast, 43% currently go to the European Union. The idea that we will be better off outside the European Union is a fallacy.