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UK’s Withdrawal from the EU

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 1:40 pm on 14th February 2019.

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Photo of Peter Grant Peter Grant Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union) 1:40 pm, 14th February 2019

I do not accept the argument that says, “Because the vote was close,” or, “Because the legislation did not say it was binding.” I think we have to accept the results of the referendum in each of the four nations of the United Kingdom. That is why, although I sympathise with where my hon. Friend Angus Brendan MacNeil is coming from, I have some difficulty with his amendment, because I do not think we can permanently revoke article 50 unless we have a revised decision in another referendum.

When I say that we have to respect the result of the referendum, we have to respect the results in the four nations. It would be unacceptable for us to permanently revoke article 50 for England and Wales without asking the people of those nations what they thought. It is equally unacceptable and unconstitutional to ignore the express will of the people of Scotland or indeed Northern Ireland. We have the ridiculous situation where Northern Ireland cannot be made to stay in the United Kingdom against the will of its people and cannot be taken out of the United Kingdom against the will of its people, but can be taken out of the European Union against the will of its people. How does that work?

I cannot see any prospect of the Prime Minister’s deal being accepted by Parliament either before or after 29 March. I cannot see any prospect of the European Union agreeing any significant changes in the next month to a deal that it has spent two years with the Government agreeing to, so we are not going to leave with a deal on 29 March. As Mr Clarke, the Father of the House, has said, there are barely 25 people in this place who would countenance leaving with no deal on 29 March, so surely the only credible, tenable and defensible solution is not to leave on 29 March, but to put back the leaving day until we can sort things out and at least engage in some kind of damage limitation.