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

I think I will treat it with the contempt it deserves, Mr Speaker.

By 1914, Scotland had nearly 25,000 European residents, mostly from southern and eastern Europe. Between 1891 and 1901, 25% of the immigrants came from Italy. The majority came mainly from Russia and Poland and settled mostly in the west of Scotland, and they were welcomed, just as migrants today are welcomed. Almost 50% of male immigrants worked in coal mining and about 12% in tailoring, while most of the Italian migrants became more involved with restaurants and retail.

We have so much to lose from Brexit and nothing to gain. I plead with Members to change course. If they do, history will remember their act of courage. Today, Members have an opportunity to preserve our opportunities with Europe—our cultural links, our shared values, our economic ties and our solidarity in coming together to find a way forward.

Voting for the SNP amendment will respect the votes of the people of Scotland in 2016. They must not and will not be dragged out of the EU against their will. Scotland’s voice has been ignored for too long. The SNP will continue to press for the best possible outcome for the people of Scotland, and if our voice is not respected —if Scotland is continuously silenced and sidelined by this Tory Government—this place will not be forgiven.

The days of Westminster having a veto over Scotland’s future are over. Only as an independent country can Scotland thrive; and friends, we will thrive. The discussions today about ditching the backstop are just internal Tory matters. They can fight and squabble, but the EU is united and clear. It will not accept any changes to the backstop in the withdrawal agreement.