EU-UK Partnership: EU’s Mandate

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:28 pm on 4th June 2020.

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Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice and Home Affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 3:28 pm, 4th June 2020

It is a pleasure to follow Sir William Cash. We disagree about much, but we are both committed to the restoration of sovereignty. He is committed to the restoration of the sovereignty of this Parliament, whereas I am committed to restoring the sovereignty of the people of Scotland, which of course was famously asserted in the declaration of Arbroath, whose 700th anniversary we are celebrating this year. In the June 2016 referendum, people in Scotland voted overwhelmingly to be part of the EU.

That preference has been reinforced in Scotland in two subsequent United Kingdom general elections and in the European Parliament election, yet on 31 January this year, people living in Scotland found themselves being taken out of the European Union against their expressed wishes. At that time it was said that this was, “Getting Brexit done”, but of course Brexit is not done. All that has been agreed are the terms of withdrawal. Nothing has been agreed regarding the future relationship between the UK and the EU. Judging from what I see and hear in my role as a member of the Select Committee on the Future Relationship with the EU, there is very little chance of an agreement being reached by the end of this year.

The Scottish National party thinks that it is not and will not be possible to conduct and conclude the negotiations and implement the results within the truncated timescale that has been set. We also think that in the context of an unprecedented global pandemic and a catastrophic economic recession, which might turn out to be the worst in 300 years, it is frankly irresponsible to think that things can be done properly within that timeframe.

That view is widely held by those who have the misfortune to watch and comment upon the British Government’s conduct of the negotiations, which includes the ill-judged and rather petulant letter sent by Mr Frost to Mr Barnier last month. That is widely seen as having been something of a nadir in the British Government’s approach to the negotiations.