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Exiting the European Union (Mediation)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:20 pm on 18th February 2019.

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Photo of Gavin Newlands Gavin Newlands Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Sport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales) 8:20 pm, 18th February 2019

Since that fateful day in June 2016, the Scottish National party has consistently raised justice co-operation post Brexit. No mitigation can replicate the arrangements we have as members of the EU. On the face of it, this statutory instrument seems less important than the grand examples of fleeing businesses, uncertainty about medicine supply chains and failed shipping contracts with firms with no ferries that result in millions of pounds being wasted, but it remains an important and undeniable example of utterly pointless self-harm. In this SI, the UK is willingly taking a course of action that will put both British and EU citizens in a worse position. Jim Cormack QC, of Pinsent Masons, has said:

“The significance of the repeal is perhaps more symbolic as it explicitly recognises that Brexit results in the end of reciprocity in this respect between the UK and the relevant remaining member states of the EU”.

Scotland has a separate legal system and approach to justice that is closely integrated with EU law, so the SI applies to Scotland only in a limited way. As the Minister identified, Scotland will legislate separately to repeal the relevant provisions within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, including on court rules. Nevertheless, this is a significant SI, as it flows directly from the UK Government’s decision to leave the EU without showing due regard to the fact to two nations of this so-called precious Union of equals voted to remain—Scotland emphatically so.

Scotland is, then, being ripped out of the EU against its will, and I have serious concerns about the impact this will have on our justice system, which I remind the House has always been separate and distinct—even if Jeremy Corbyn was unaware of this fact when he visited Scotland recently. Over the past 40 years, EU law has become woven into the fabric of both Scots and UK law, and this has overwhelmingly been to our benefit, yet, even though these effective arrangements for judicial co-operation benefit victims, families, businesses and communities in Scotland and elsewhere in the EU, they face being repealed or are under serious threat.

What makes this worse is that throughout the whole Brexit process the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament and all our civic organisations have been roundly ignored, while the Prime Minister ploughs on with the least popular Westminster initiative since the poll tax. No attempt has been made to win over Scotland or even to listen to any of the concerns expressed in the country, which raises certain questions. For example, what consultation was carried out in Scotland with the Scottish Government, the Law Society or any other civic body?