Early Parliamentary General Election

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:49 pm on 28th October 2019.

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Photo of Ian Blackford Ian Blackford SNP Westminster Leader 5:49 pm, 28th October 2019

I say to the Labour party that we and the Liberal Democrats have put forward a Bill that leaves us in control of the process and allows us to set the date for the election, and I appeal to Labour MPs to come with us, because this is about leadership. This is about the Opposition parties coming together and taking the keys of No.10 Downing Street away from a Prime Minister we cannot trust. My message to the Labour party is: let us face an election, let us do it on our terms, let us make sure that we take the Prime Minister and his toxic Tory Government out of office. We can do it—we can do it if the Opposition parties unite. We can stop the deal that the Prime Minister wants to drive through. It is in the hands of the Labour party to join us and the Liberal Democrats, to have the courage to stand up against the Prime Minister. But what are we going to find? We are going to find that the Labour party wants to sit on its hands and wait for this Government to deliver a Brexit. I say to the Labour party: do not be the handmaidens of the Prime Minister’s Brexit. Let us put this back to the people now by coming together. It used to be said, including by Oliver Brown, a well-known Scottish nationalist, “A shiver ran along the Labour Front Bench looking for a spine to crawl up.” The shiver is still looking for that spine.

The SNP is standing up for Scotland. We are standing up against Brexit and this Tory Government. The SNP has fought tirelessly alongside others in this House to prevent Brexit, to secure the right to revoke article 50, to stop no deal and to limit the damage. We have delivered the votes, day in and day out. But we have to be realistic and we have to be honest with the public: we have repeatedly voted for a referendum with remain on the ballot paper but, regrettably, there is no evidence that the majority exists in this House for a people’s vote. The Leader of the Opposition and the shadow Chancellor are acutely aware that if the Bill comes back, some of their MPs will back it, the Bill will become law and Brexit will happen. The question for the Labour party is: can it get its act together? Do Labour Members actually want to stop this Prime Minister? Do they want to stop Brexit or do they agree that it should be imposed on Scotland against our will? Doing nothing means that this Prime Minister stays in power—it means he gets Brexit done, on his terms and in his party’s interests, not in all our national interests.