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European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:07 pm on 9th January 2020.

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Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitution), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 2:07 pm, 9th January 2020

It is a real pleasure to see you back where you belong, Mr Deputy Speaker—in the Chair—and I congratulate you on your stunning success in securing that position. I think that we have a fantastic team of Deputy Speakers, and I look forward to serving under you for years to come.

I wish I could say that it is a pleasure and a privilege to follow Mr Paterson, but it is not. I think that I represent the almost extreme other side of the Brexit debate. I usually say that it is good to speak in a Third Reading debate, but unfortunately I cannot say that either. This is something that the people of Scotland will very much regret and mourn. We are not “leaving” the European Union; we are being taken out of the European Union against our national collective will, and believe me, Mr Deputy Speaker, that is something that will not stand.

As is conventional on Third Reading, I shall offer my congratulations to a series of speakers. I congratulate the Secretary of State—who has just departed—and his team on getting the Bill through the House of Commons. He is the one Secretary of State to be actually attuned with his Prime Minister, unlike a succession of others who did not quite see to eye with their Prime Ministers and the direction in which their Brexit was travelling. I also pay tribute to all the Opposition teams, and, in particular, to my hon. Friend Dr Whitford, who has just assumed her new role and who, as always, has led our debate with such distinction and articulateness.

The people I most want to congratulate, however, are the real winners of today, the hard Brexiteers and the Farageists. Their success has been total, brutal and absolute. Not only have they managed to secure the hard Brexit that they have craved for years, but, with this Bill, they have kept in place the bullseye, the gold standard, of all hard Brexits—the possibility of a no-deal departure from the European Union. Their anti-European obsession will be quenched today: insatiable lifetime ambitions of wrenching this country out of the EU will be realised. Their victory is even more impressive because they started as a small, insignificant, cult-like fringe on the edge of the Conservative party. Such is their tenacity and commitment to the cause that they have now gone mainstream. Just one generation ago they were the B-A-S-T-ards of John Major folklore. Now they run the country. Their commitment to the cause has been so absolutely determined that they were prepared to bring down their own Prime Ministers to get their way—[Interruption.] And I shall give way to one of them now.