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European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:14 am on 20th December 2019.

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Photo of Ian Blackford Ian Blackford SNP Westminster Leader 10:14 am, 20th December 2019

It is a pleasure to follow Dr Fox. As I was listening to him, I could already see coming back the red lines that caused the problem for the previous Prime Minister. We are to do a trade deal by the end of 2020 but, at the same time, we are not to have any degree of alignment with the European Union. When we hear talk of writing into the Bill that there will be no extension, that is a matter of politics. If the Government can legislate for that today, they can equally legislate to remove that burden before the end of 2020. I predict that that may indeed end up being the position, because the harsh reality is that that deadline means that the risk of a no-deal Brexit, which we all fear, is very much back on the table.

Scotland could not have been clearer last week. We did not vote for Brexit, and returning the SNP with a greater mandate shows that Scotland still totally and utterly rejects Brexit. Yet the Prime Minister is blindly hurtling towards the cliff edge with these deeply damaging Brexit plans, which will leave us poorer and worse off. This legislation will hit our economy, cost thousands of jobs in Scotland, sell out our food and drink sector and harm people’s livelihoods. The Scottish National party will not vote for this flawed and deeply damaging legislation.

We reject this toxic Brexit legislation and make clear that this UK Government cannot drag Scotland out of the European Union before gaining the legislative consent of the Scottish Parliament. My question to the Prime Minister is this: will he accept that the devolved Administrations have the right to withhold their legislative consent? Will he now enter into constructive dialogue with those who seek to defend our rights—our Parliament in Edinburgh and our First Minister? We know the reality is that this Prime Minister will ignore Scotland; he will keep ploughing ahead despite the fact that Scotland voted to remain in the European Union. At last week’s general election, Scotland voted decisively to escape Brexit and to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands. The Prime Minister has no mandate to drag Scotland out of the European Union. It is clearer than ever that the people of Scotland must have their say over their future, rather than the broken Brexit Britain that he wishes to impose on us.

Our economy will be smaller, weaker and poorer as a result of our leaving the European Union. Why? Because of the ideology of the Brexit fanboys—those in the Leave.EU campaign who now run this Government. Despite the Prime Minister’s assertions, Brexit is already having an impact on our economy. Analysis in the “State of the Economy” report by Scotland’s chief economist shows that continuing uncertainty is resulting in a half a billion pound shortfall in business investment in Scotland. That is the price of Brexit. It does not matter whether it is this Brexit or another Brexit—the analysis shows that all forms of Brexit will harm Scotland’s economy and result in lower household incomes.