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

There was a higher turnout in the Scottish independence referendum, when things were set out. There have been higher turnouts in general elections before. The right hon. Gentleman needs to recognise that democracy did not stop on the day of the EU referendum—nor will it stop on that day. I notice he did not bother to defend the point I was making about the Brexiteers not setting things out. He did not have the courage or decency to tell us why they did not set anything out. They had no plans and they are in a mess of their own making. President Tusk, who stood up for democracy and went to jail for democracy, was right to say that there is a “special place in hell” for those who wanted to leave the EU but had not even thought about how to do it. The particular hell that he referenced seems to have come early in a House of Commons that is blocked up by Maastricht rebels of a quarter century ago who are still fighting the same fights. We do not get time to debate the impact of Tory austerity on public services. We are not debating climate change, the biggest challenge of a generation. We are talking about process in Parliament—a Parliament that is increasingly failing.

On that point, we are being told by the Tories who backed Brexit that we have to leave now, with the disasters that that will bring, because of the European elections. Just think of that! A Parliament that is fully elected, with no appointed Members in sight. Imagine elections that give people decisions over their futures. We are told, however, that we should not participate in those elections because of what it will do to the Conservatives in electoral terms. I do not give a stuff about what it will do to the Conservatives in electoral terms, but I do care what a disastrous no deal will do to my constituents, and so should each and every Member of this House. When we have a Government who are talking about medicine and food shortages and unrest on the streets, that needs to concern each and every one of us.

Ultimately, I want to live in a Scotland that is not beholden to the extremists who are currently calling the shots in this place; that is comfortable with giving citizens and businesses the opportunities of all four freedoms that the EU has provided; and that welcomes the world and seeks to work on an equal basis with our neighbours. I want to live in a country that is happy to share sovereignty and resources over issues such as protecting the environment and medical research, rather than having nuclear weapons in Governments we do not vote for imposed upon us. But for now, just for today, getting to the end of the week without crashing out with a disastrous no deal is going to have to do.