Leaving the EU

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons on 20th February 2019.

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Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip

What recent discussions he has had with the Prime Minister on the effect on Scotland of the UK leaving the EU. It is good to see the Benches so busy for Scotland questions.

Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Energy)

What recent discussions he has had with the Prime Minister on the effect on Scotland of the UK leaving the EU.

Photo of Peter Grant Peter Grant Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

What recent discussions he has had with the Prime Minister on the effect on Scotland of the UK leaving the EU.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

I share the pleasure of Patrick Grady at seeing so many Members present on the Opposition Benches below the gangway. I have regular meetings with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and colleagues and have discussed the benefits of the withdrawal agreement and political deceleration for Scotland and the whole of the UK.

Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip

Does he accept that no form of Brexit is better for Scotland than our current deal, which is membership? On that basis, will he take the opportunity now to rule out a no-deal, cliff-edge Brexit by extending article 50?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

There is one sure and clear way to avoid a no-deal Brexit, and that is to vote for the Prime Minister’s deal; but on every occasion that SNP Members have had an opportunity to do so, they have declined. Indeed, they have sought to bring a no-deal Brexit closer to reality.

Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Energy)

Instead of these weasel words and standard answer, will the Secretary of State answer the question? The Government agree that no deal would be a disaster. Does he agree with extending article 50 to rule out a no-deal scenario?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

I agree that we should leave the EU with a deal. The SNP position is to contrive to bring about a no-deal Brexit, and the chaos and disruption that they know that would bring to Scotland.

Photo of Peter Grant Peter Grant Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

It is just as well that the three-strikes-and-you’re-out rule does not apply here, or the Secretary of State would be one dodged question away from an early bath. On other occasions, the Secretary of State has been very keen to know what plan B was, so what has he told the Prime Minister his plan B is when—not if, but when—the Prime Minister’s rotten deal is rejected again? Is his plan B no deal or is it to extend article 50, and why is he so coy about telling us what it is?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

First, I absolutely refute the hon. Gentleman’s description of the Prime Minister’s deal. The Prime Minister’s deal is a good deal. This House, by a majority, has set out changes it wants to that deal, and the Prime Minister is seeking that deal. But if SNP Members really do not want no deal, they should be backing a deal.

Photo of Paul Masterton Paul Masterton Conservative, East Renfrewshire

Can the Secretary of State confirm that, having spent months propping herself in front of every TV camera going, demanding a seat at the table, the First Minister of Scotland was extended an invitation to a series of key meetings by the Prime Minister, which she could not even be bothered to attend?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

My hon. Friend is correct. For whatever reason, the First Minister has chosen not to attend the Cabinet Sub-Committee chaired by the Prime Minister on EU exit preparedness. What she has been prepared to do, however, is to go on television and say that she would not accept any deal; no matter what that deal contained, she would not accept a deal. To me, that is a most powerful advocate for a no-deal Brexit.

Photo of Colin Clark Colin Clark Conservative, Gordon

Her Majesty’s Government’s Agriculture Bill will give essential legal clarity for farm payments after 2020 and safeguard the UK frameworks as we leave the EU. Does the Secretary of State agree that that is in marked contrast to the SNP Scottish Government who, even at this late stage, have refused to be part of the Bill, leaving Scottish farmers in the dark and at risk?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

My hon. Friend has become a powerful advocate for Scottish agriculture in this Parliament. He is correct. We have offered the Scottish Government the opportunity to join us in taking forward the UK Agriculture Bill and providing certainty for Scottish farmers. Instead, they prepare to play politics with Scottish farming and leave farmers with great uncertainty.

Photo of David Duguid David Duguid Conservative, Banff and Buchan

In line with the Prime Minister’s ongoing commitment to supporting the growth of the fisheries sector outside the common fisheries policy, may I ask my right hon. Friend what discussions he has had with the Prime Minister, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Treasury about future financial support for the sector, and how best to progress with that and invest in the industry in Scotland?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

As my hon. Friend knows, both the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have made very clear their support for the industry. Indeed, this afternoon I am meeting the Secretary of State, and that will be one issue on our agenda.

Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Labour, Edinburgh South

We have seen over the past few weeks the large number of businesses that have been warning about Brexit and the Government’s strategy on Brexit. I keep being told by the leave campaign, “Don’t worry; businesses will adapt.” Well, they are adapting. They are adapting by moving their holding companies and their brass plates to other European Union countries. What will the Secretary of State do in the Cabinet to try to sort this mess out before it is too late? While his party and the SNP fight over flags, some of us are going to have to fight for jobs in our constituencies.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

I did anticipate that I would have a question from the hon. Gentleman, but I was not sure whether he would ask it from the Labour Benches. What he needs to do, if he is concerned about avoiding a no-deal Brexit and the disruption and chaos that that would bring to Scottish businesses, is back the Prime Minister’s deal.

Photo of Tommy Sheppard Tommy Sheppard Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (House of Lords)

Coming back to Brexit, the Secretary of State seems to be completely incapable of answering a simple question: given the choice between no deal and extending article 50 to avoid that scenario, would he choose the latter option? Leaving that to one side, the papers report that he and three colleagues went to see the Prime Minister on Monday this week to discuss this very matter. Did he request that the Prime Minister take no deal off the table, and what was her response?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

I am very clear about the implications of no deal for Scotland and the United Kingdom, which is why I want the Prime Minister to achieve a deal. That is why any Member of the House who does not want a no-deal outcome should support a deal.

Photo of Tommy Sheppard Tommy Sheppard Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (House of Lords)

The right hon. Gentleman seems to be incapable of answering a simple question. If he did indeed tell the Prime Minister to take no deal off the table, let me commend him, because for once—a rare occasion—he is in tune with public opinion in Scotland. He has threatened in the past to resign over matters of detail. When it comes to a matter of principle—having a deal or not—is he prepared to stay in the Cabinet and implement a no-deal scenario?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

The hon. Gentleman puts his finger on the key question. It is about having a deal or not. When that question has been asked, the SNP has always been in the not column, contriving to bring about a no-deal Brexit for Scotland. I am in the deal column. I voted for the deal in the meaningful vote, and I will do so again

Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is high time that Members in all parts of the House, in the words of the head of Make UK, set aside

“selfish political ideology ahead of the national interest and people’s livelihoods”,

and voted for an EU withdrawal agreement to prevent the catastrophic event of leaving the EU without a deal?

Photo of Lesley Laird Lesley Laird Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

On the 12 October 2016, when questioned about the sweetheart deal that the UK Government struck with Nissan, the Secretary of State stood at the Dispatch Box and told the House that whatever support is put in place for businesses in the south of England

“will apply to businesses in Scotland.”—[Official Report, 12 October 2016;
Vol. 615, c. 287.]

In light of the news that Nissan was offered a financial package worth up to £80 million to ensure that it would not be adversely affected by Brexit, can he detail the financial support that he has made available to Scottish businesses to ensure that, like Nissan, they are not adversely affected by Brexit?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

I am pleased to see the hon. Lady on the Labour Benches, as it has been reported that she would be willing to give up her seat to the SNP so that there could be a Labour minority Government propped up by the SNP. I stand by what I said previously: we stand ready to support businesses in Scotland. A huge amount of Government support has gone into supporting businesses in Scotland since the Brexit vote, and that will continue to be the case.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

May I gently say to Members on both sides of the House that the style is altogether too languid? A lot of people want to get in: short questions, short answers, and let us move on. I call Lesley Laird.

Photo of Lesley Laird Lesley Laird Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

Let me reassure the Secretary of State that I am going nowhere—I am Labour through and through. [Interruption.] He should not believe everything that he reads in the newspapers.

Recently, Nissan, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Airbus, Sony, Panasonic, the Federation of Small Businesses, the CBI and many others have said that the Government’s incompetence over Brexit already means that jobs are being lost. Everyone here knows that the Prime Minister’s deal is dead, so is the Secretary of State going to let this circus continue or is he going to pull his head out of the sand and take no deal off the table, because that is what business wants, it is what Parliament wants, and it is what the country wants.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Secretary of State for Scotland

What the country wants is to have this sorted. They want to leave the EU with a deal, and the hon. Lady and her colleagues should support the Prime Minister in her endeavour.