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Britain's Place in the World

Part of Speaker’s Statement – in the House of Commons at 3:55 pm on 15th October 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Gethins Stephen Gethins Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) 3:55 pm, 15th October 2019

It is sometimes easy to forget the sunlit uplands of days gone by when those of us in Westminster were not entirely immersed in the omnishambolic boorach that is Brexit. In old money, I would still be a first-term MP, rather than one facing a third general election in just over four years. In days gone by, if a new Government came in with a fresh set of ideas—say, to take us out of the European Union, upending decades of peace, stability and progress—we might expect them to have some idea of how to deliver their promises and what impact it might have on us all.

Well, 2015 seems like a long time ago—not so long ago, to be fair, because the same old faces who proposed leaving the EU without any sort of plan for how to deliver on their commitments once again find themselves in senior positions in Government where they can act on their commitments. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, as they might say in the francophone parts of Brussels. Here we are, years on from the EU referendum, and those who failed to deliver on their Brexit commitments the first time around look like they are going to fail a second time around. What an almighty mess! We are now hearing reports that election leaflets from the Conservatives accept that we will not leave on 31 October—quite right too; it is the law. Let us hope that those in Conservative headquarters are a little bit better at sticking to the law than the Prime Minister appears to be.

The UK Government’s own analysis tells us that every type of Brexit will leave us worse off and poorer as a result of leaving the EU—every type. We are healthier with the co-operation in medicine supplies and groundbreaking research from our membership. We are wealthier with access to the world’s biggest single market. We are fairer in terms of workers’, parental and other rights, which I would not trust this or any other Tory Government with. And we are greener in tackling the climate emergency and developing technologies, where Scotland is leading the way, even if this Government do not always give us the powers that we need. Of course we can do better. Deepening co-operation between 28 independent and sovereign states—let us not forget that members of the EU are independent and sovereign—will never be easy.