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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

This is the most extraordinary thing. They sit here with no plan for Brexit, demanding all sorts that they cannot deliver, and telling the people of Scotland—who, time and again, provide a majority to the party that believes in independence—what is best, but forgetting that there are 27 models throughout the European Union for member status, which was also set out before the referendum in a White Paper. I like the hon. Gentleman—he might not thank me for saying that—but he fails to remember that it is traditional in a democracy to set out the plans before the vote, rather than four years later, scrabbling about days before we are due to leave, seeking a plan. The reason for that is that independence is normal. Member status of the European Union is normal. Brexit—isolationism—is not normal.

Leaving the EU will make us poorer, more decentralised, less fair and isolated from our closest partners, but let us just for one moment focus on one of the proposals—just one—contained in the Queen’s Speech. Rarely has there been a more damaging and regressive bit of legislation than that proposed to scrap freedom of movement. It is a freedom that generations of citizens have benefited from—from the pensioner who seeks retirement in Spain after years of hard work to the young person starting out on their career in education and getting valuable training or work opportunities in the Netherlands. That was me once upon a time—benefiting from freedom of movement. I did not benefit from the expensive education that many of the Brexiteers had, but I was able to use freedom of movement to my advantage to advance my education and career. The UK will now be unique among our neighbours in our citizens not having those opportunities. Why on earth would I vote to take away opportunities that I myself have had?