UK’s Withdrawal from the European Union

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 2:41 pm on 14th March 2019.

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Photo of Ian Blackford Ian Blackford SNP Westminster Leader 2:41 pm, 14th March 2019

The UK Government have descended into total farce. The Prime Minister has lost control of her Cabinet, her party and her Parliament. What we witnessed in the House last night was nothing short of absolute chaos. Mr Speaker, have you ever witnessed a Prime Minister whip her own party against her own motion? The Tory party truly is a shambles: more Ministers resigning, a Prime Minister with no authority, a Government incapable of governing. She has lost all control.

The Prime Minister lost a vote on her deal by the largest margin in parliamentary history, lost a second by a near historic margin, and lost a vote on taking no deal off the table, yet she tries to carry on as if nothing has happened. Apparently, we are to vote on her deal again next week. For her, nothing has changed. She does not want a second EU referendum, yet we are offered multiple votes on her deal. We are now on to the third—not the best of three, under her rules, because she only has to win once; we have to win every time to stop her Brexit madness. If she loses next week, do we get a fourth, fifth or even more meaningful votes, until Parliament does what she wants? She has to accept that she is out of time. She has to accept reality. Her deal is a bad deal; no deal is a calamity.

This week, the House of Lords placed an amendment in the Trade Bill to prevent a no-deal Brexit. That is a legislative instrument. The Government must now bring back the Trade Bill before 29 March. This is crucial, and I expect the Brexit Secretary to respond when he sums up. The Prime Minister cannot stifle the legislative process to meet her party political interests. She must accept the will of the House. So much for parliamentary democracy—she ignores what she calls the sovereignty of Parliament. Her actions underline that this truly is a constitutional crisis.

The only way out of this disaster is to put the decision on our EU membership back to the people. The people must take back control. We have an amendment before us on a people’s vote. It is not our amendment; it has come from others. I did not choose the timing, but the fact is, it is in front of us today. The House has its first opportunity—perhaps its only opportunity—to say, on the basis of what we know, on the basis of what has changed since the referendum in 2016, that the people of the United Kingdom deserve to have a people’s vote. We must all reflect on the reality that there is no such thing as a good Brexit. People will lose their jobs.

On a day like today, we expect the so-called official Opposition to get behind that amendment, but you know what’s happened? A shiver has run along the Front Bench of the Labour party looking for a spine to crawl up, but it has not found one. I will say this: the Labour party will pay a price. It is little wonder that in Scotland it has been found out for its behaviour over the past few years, having worked hand in glove with the Conservatives and Better Together to frustrate independence for Scotland. Today, we find again that it is not prepared to stand up with the young people throughout the United Kingdom who are going to lose their rights to work and travel in 28 EU member states.

I reflected a couple of days ago on how the Prime Minister sat and laughed as we talked about that, but then there is a man I have had some respect for, the Labour party Brexit spokesperson, and he has simply flunked this opportunity. The Labour party truly is a disgrace. It is little surprise that it has fallen to third place in Scottish politics. My goodness, it is going to stay there for a considerable time to come.