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

I am going to make some progress.

Parliament has repeatedly rejected the Prime Minister’s deal and leaving with no deal. Both those points must be respected. When we said no to her deal, we meant it. Only a fresh referendum can now unblock things. The UK Government must now extend article 50 and set in motion plans to hold a second EU referendum, with remain on the ballot paper. Staying in the European Union is the best deal of all. It is what Scotland voted for. It is the only way to protect jobs, living standards, our public services and the economy. Holding a second EU referendum is the best and most democratic way out of the impasse at Westminster. Westminster has failed, and the people must now have, and will have, their say.

The SNP tabled an amendment that would have got us out of this mess. Our amendment would have seen the Government move to agree an extension to article 50 with the European Union, to provide time to hold a second EU referendum. We know that the EU would consider an extension. Only this morning, Donald Tusk tweeted:

“I will appeal to the EU27 to be open to a long extension if the UK finds it necessary to rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it.”

That is the way out for everyone in this Parliament. Our amendment would have ensured that any second EU referendum would include an option to remain in the European Union. That is what is required.

Members must recall the resolutions of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly on 5 March 2019, which opposed the UK Government’s exit deal and agreed that a no-deal outcome to the current negotiations on EU withdrawal would be completely unacceptable. This House must wake up to that reality, and to the democratic votes of the institutions of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. Members must recognise that democracy means respecting the will of the people, but that means all the people. Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain. On that point, I will give way.