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Global Britain

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:07 pm on 30th January 2020.

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Photo of Stewart McDonald Stewart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence) 1:07 pm, 30th January 2020

I would not be in this House if I did not accept the 2014 referendum result. There would not be this huge number of Scottish National party Members of Parliament if we did not accept the 2014 referendum. As Ruth Davidson herself said, it is entirely right, honourable and indeed expected that the Scottish National party should continue to advocate for the very policy that it is in existence to try to deliver. There is nothing undemocratic or dishonourable about me and my colleagues advancing that cause.

None the less, even with accepting that the Brexiteers in the House have won—I can accept that—who, no matter what their Brexit position, can fail to have been moved by the scenes in the European Parliament yesterday, when parliamentarians from across the continent joined hands and sang that great Scots music hall poem, “Auld Lang Syne”. It is a song and a poem of friendship and of solidarity across the continent of Europe. What a contrast to the high hand of UK Unionism that we have seen just this week. This is what I mean when I say to colleagues on the Government Benches to please engage their brain.

The Scottish Government published a very serious document, seeking to alleviate the pressures on that part of the United Kingdom with regard to the movement of people. Scotland’s problem is people leaving, not people coming. It is inconceivable that the UK Government could even have read that proposal before they rejected it out of hand. I feel like they are doing my job for me, because in parts of my constituency—admittedly, it is a yes voting constituency, but it has always had the highest Tory vote in Glasgow—the people on whom they are relying, who are part of the coalition they need to keep the Union together, have not necessarily painted their faces blue and run into the forest declaring support for independence, but my goodness they want to have a conversation with my party in a way that they did not in the 2014 referendum. I ask colleagues on the Government Benches just to reflect on that, and on the fact that every single compromise that was offered by the Scottish Government and by the Scottish National party in this House over the past four years has been rejected out of hand—every single one of them.

I accept that the European Union—[Interruption.] Mr Bone, whom I am coming to, is yawning at this point. I accept that the European Union is the great devil for some people, but we just do not see it like that. The European Union as a project was created as Europe stood at the gates of hell and all of the history that went before it. Where there was Nazism and communism, it displaced those ideas and opened up economies and opened up markets. It allowed the clash of ideas in free and fair elections to take place all across the European continent. It still has a job to do in some parts of it.

The Secretary of State prayed in aid the Government’s trade strategy. The European Union, a place in the world where once there were warring navies in the waters and warring air forces in the sky, now has trading, shipping and exchanges of ideas and of commerce that I thought Conservatives would have welcomed, but perhaps I am at risk of re-running the old argument.