Sittings of the House (29 March)

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 5:53 pm on 28th March 2019.

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Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitution), Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee, Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons, Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee 5:53 pm, 28th March 2019

I will confine my remarks exclusively to the motion before us this afternoon—I am sure you will be pleased about that, Mr Speaker—and I will leave it to others to continue to debate the merits of the motion tomorrow.

I do not think I have ever seen in the last 18 years a start of a business motion which has been preceded by endless points of order. That more than anything demonstrates the mess this place is in—the absolute guddle we have in procedure and process. All these points of order are trying to examine and define and find out exactly what is going on. I am pretty certain all of our constituents, who are taking a great deal of interest in our proceedings just now, are absolutely bemused and mystified, frustrated and increasingly angry about the way we do our business in this House, with all these issues trying to come to the front of our attention. It has almost got to the point in this House where it is so broken and the debate is so corrupted that we are now having debates through points of order. I can barely imagine that we have reached that stage just now; it demonstrates how badly broken things are.

The sitting tomorrow is all about the Government’s latest wheeze to get their doomed Brexit deal through. They are inviting us to consider the withdrawal agreement without the political declaration attached. It is a meaningful vote, but it is a sort of Schrödinger’s meaningful vote: it is both alive and dead at the same time. After three years without any attempt to create any sort of secure consensus on the way forward, and after two months of defeats and this House taking control yesterday, this is the last throw of the dice for the Government tomorrow. It seems that even the Prime Minister offering herself as a sacrifice to the Brexiteers this week was not good enough for them. As the First Minister put it so elegantly in the Scottish Parliament today, this is a Prime Minister who threw herself on her sword and missed. It cannot get any more calamitous than that.

There is just one more issue about tomorrow. As Scottish National party Members, we are all, as you would expect, Scottish Members of Parliament. That means that there are particular issues when it comes to our travel arrangements. We spend more than half a day getting to this House and half a day getting back—that is one full day of travelling just to be able to come down here and do our business. This Government have so disrespected all of us who have to travel great distances. Confirming only this morning that the House will be sitting tomorrow is totally unacceptable—