Principles of Democracy and the Rights of the Electorate

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 4:28 pm on 26th September 2019.

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Photo of Luke Graham Luke Graham Conservative, Ochil and South Perthshire 4:28 pm, 26th September 2019

It is a pleasure to speak in this debate. I would like to start by rebutting some of the points made by Joanna Cherry, although she is not in her place just now. She made some pretty clear points. She said that a horse and cart had been driven through the Sewel convention. That was not true; Lord Sewel himself said that the convention was respected. There was also a bizarre revisionist history moment when she talked about a Union between England and Ireland that never happened; it was a Union between Ireland and Great Britain, which of course included Scotland. Finally, the hon. and learned Lady said that the vast majority of people in Scotland wanted separation. Unfortunately, according to the polls since 2015, 78%, versus 8%, would vote to maintain the United Kingdom.

I have returned to those points because facts matter. The picking and choosing of results—and history, as was evidenced in the House earlier today—makes for terrible politics. I have a lot of respect for some Scottish National party Members, not least because of some of the legal actions that have been taken in the last week or so. They champion the rule of law, which I always respect. However, we get into a very difficult situation when politicians take results, especially results of referendums, and try to cut them one way or the other. In 2014, for example, it was clear that the Union had won. People wanted Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom. The result was 55:45. That was a 10-point margin, which is a huge margin. If it happened in a general election, it would be described as a landslide. Yet SNP Members continue to champion the 45%—which is fair enough; they are elected, and I respect that.