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Early Parliamentary General Election Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:52 pm on 29th October 2019.

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Photo of Ian Blackford Ian Blackford SNP Westminster Leader 2:52 pm, 29th October 2019

If the hon. Lady had been listening, I just explained that we do that in Scotland. The problem for the Tories is that they can never make a judgment on what is the right thing to do. We are talking about EU citizens who are losing their rights.

Let me remind the House of what the Prime Minister said way back in July in response to my hon. Friend Peter Grant when he asked about EU nationals having the right to vote:

“Those guarantees, as the hon. Gentleman knows, we are giving unilaterally, in a supererogatory way.”—[Official Report, 25 July 2019;
Vol. 663, c. 1498.]

Well, there we are—the words of the Prime Minister, doing exactly what we are calling for, yet we find that the Conservatives are blind to these calls. I therefore expect the Government today to look positively on any amendments that come forward for EU nationals. The Government have nothing to fear from extending the franchise—and of course one very important and salient point is that EU nationals are already on the voters register because they are allowed to vote in local elections. There is no moral reason for the Government not to allow this.

This is about choosing our future: our future in Europe. It is about choosing freedom from austerity. It is about opportunity. We cannot be held back any more by Westminster. The SNP will take that message to the public. Many decades ago it was said in a letter by Steinbeck to Mrs Kennedy that Scotland is not a lost cause—Scotland is a cause unwon. We will win that battle. Scotland will become an independent country and the general election will be an important step on the way to completing that journey.