Section 1 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019

Part of Exiting the European Union (Sanctions) – in the House of Commons at 4:20 pm on 9th April 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Gethins Stephen Gethins Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) 4:20 pm, 9th April 2019

May I wish everybody, not just the Brexiteers, a very happy National Unicorn Day?

I pay tribute to Members across the House, from all parties, who have made today’s votes possible and who have tried to find a meaningful way through. In a Parliament of minorities, we will, increasingly, have to do that. I find it astonishing that we are still debating whether to rule out a no-deal Brexit. Even today, this most simple of moves—our amendment asks that the delay should be at least three months—seems like a measure that we should not even be discussing or debating, so straightforward and common-sense does it seem. Yet we are having this debate. I want to make it clear that from the SNP perspective we are nowhere near being any closer to finding a solution, and that means we need a lengthy extension to sort out the mess that the Conservative party has created for everybody in the UK. Ministers know that a no-deal Brexit would be devastating for jobs, the economy and public services. Ministers know that, yet there are still a number of them who would like to see us crash out on Friday night. That is, plain and simple, a case of putting party above country.

I pay particular tribute—I do not do this often—to those Conservatives who have sought compromise. They will disagree with me strongly and legitimately on a regular basis, but I pay tribute to the courage they have shown. The way that they are treated when they seek to reach compromise and reach out, as we all must in a Parliament of minorities, is an outrage. They find themselves being deselected and called all sorts of names that I will not repeat in this House. This is a party that has been taken over by its most extreme elements who want to crash out of the European Union: for trade deals that never materialised; for parliamentary sovereignty that disrespects the devolution settlement; and for democracy, as they call it, in a place where somebody can make laws due to an accident of birth. What kind of democracy is that?

We are in this mess because the Brexiteers could not even agree what kind of Brexit they wanted. They never even bothered setting it out. [Interruption.] I notice some chuntering from a sedentary position. Not one of them can defend that position.