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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

Thank you, Mr Speaker, although I may say that all I have been doing is responding to interventions from the Government side.

As I was saying, 62% of Scotland voted to remain; every single Scottish local authority area did so. So if the UK Government and indeed the Opposition believe Scotland is an equal partner, it is time that they showed respect for the will of the Scottish people. Scotland will not be taken out of the EU against its will.

Time and again the SNP and our Government in Edinburgh have sought to achieve compromise; we have suggested solution after solution to protect the interests of citizens in Scotland and across the UK. [Interruption.] That issue about lack of respect is amply shown here. [Interruption.] I can see John Lamont laughing away.

The Scottish Government issued a paper, “Scotland’s Place in Europe”, in December 2016 with contributions from a wide number of experts across the land, and the UK Government could not even be bothered to respond. That is lack of respect, which is demonstrated once again this afternoon by those on the Conservative Benches. I hope the people of Scotland reflect on that, because frankly those Members do themselves a great disservice. This Government would not listen. This Prime Minister and the Tory party care only about the interests of England. They talk about nationalists and separatists; the real separatists sit on the Conservative Benches.

The Prime Minister and the Tory party do not care about Scotland’s interests, and the truth is neither does the Leader of the Opposition: neither the Tories nor Labour give a toss about Scotland. Just look at the polls: earlier this week we saw Westminster voting intention for the SNP up 4%; for the Conservatives down 3%; and for Labour down 3%. Even so-called Scottish Tory MPs went through the Lobby last night to keep no deal on the table. They ignored the wishes of the Scottish people; they voted to leave with no deal on the table and the chaos that would ensue—they voted to put leave on the table with the prospect of shortage of medicines.

The Scottish Tories come with a health warning: they risk damaging the health of the people of Scotland. That is true after months and months of ignoring the voices of the people of Scotland and after years of showing nothing but contempt for our Government, our Parliament and our people. I urge MPs across this House, looking to the Scottish Tories and to the Scottish Labour MPs, to ask themselves: “Do you stand with Scotland? Will you stand up for Scotland’s national interests or will you instead stand up for your narrow party interests only?” I appeal to them: the time has come to put party aside. [Laughter.] People will be watching this and reading Hansard. What do we get? We get laughter from those on the Government Benches. That is what Scotland gets: not being taken seriously, but being laughed at, not so much as an afterthought.

The time has come to do what is right, what is necessary. Those Members are duty-bound to the people of Scotland to stand up for their interests, and should do that by standing with the SNP. What about the Secretary of State for Scotland, who abstained on an issue as critical as removing no-deal? He was standing on the sidelines as Scottish jobs are threatened. He ought to have resigned by now, but this really is the last straw. If he has any shred of dignity and possible remorse after having failed again to stand up for Scotland, he should do the right thing—he should resign. [Interruption.]