Exiting the European Union

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:00 pm on 11th March 2019.

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Photo of Peter Grant Peter Grant Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union) 10:00 pm, 11th March 2019

I am grateful to the Minister for his statement. I can understand why the BBC was the best source of information—we could not have it in advance—but it is disappointing that no arrangements appear to have been made for the statement to be circulated to Members. I hope he will confirm that before we finish tonight it will be available to all Members.

The Minister has given us bold words about changing the peace process guarantee. That is what the backstop is—a peace process guarantee—and we should not let it be called anything else. Despite the spin, that guarantee remains in place, and must remain in place, so can he confirm that the Government are still bound by exactly the same political guarantee that they entered into in December 2017 and that it is the UK Government’s responsibility to come up with a way of managing the Irish border that complies with their red lines and with the Belfast agreement in its entirety?

For those of us for whom the peace process guarantee was an advantage, not a problem, nothing has changed: we still have the same rotten deal taking Scotland out of the European Union against the express wish of 62% of our sovereign national citizens; we still have the same sell-out of Scotland’s fishing fleet—exactly the kind of sell-out that the Secretary of State for Scotland promised to resign over and still has not; and no doubt in tomorrow’s debate and possibly later in the week, we will get the same condescending answers to questions about the impact on Scotland. The answer is simply: “Scotland, get back in your box”, “Scotland, this is the price you have to pay to be part of the United Kingdom”. [Interruption.] I hear hisses from the Conservative Benches. I have lost count of the number of times Cabinet Ministers have responded to questions about the impact on Scotland by saying, “Can I remind the hon. Gentleman that Scotland is part of the United Kingdom?”. Tonight, we are seeing more clearly than ever the price of being part of this increasingly dis-United Kingdom.

There have been intensive briefing sessions for the European Research Group—taxpayer-funded but representing themselves—and a briefing for Arlene Foster, First Minister of nowhere, so can the Minister confirm at what time tonight the First Ministers of the national Governments of Scotland and Wales will be briefed, or will they be left to hear it on the news while others who hold no national Government positions are given preferential treatment? Will he not accept that the mood of Parliament and the four nations is that this deal cannot go through and that the only legitimate choice to give Parliament and the people is not between this deal and no deal but between this Brexit and no Brexit? May I ask him to ensure that the Prime Minister and her Cabinet colleagues are fully aware that if the Government continue to insist on dragging the people of Scotland out of the European Union against their will, on these or any other terms, the people of Scotland should be given the chance to decide which of the two Unions matters more to us? The answer to that question will not be the answer that the smiling right hon. Gentleman on the Government Front Bench expects or wants.