Taxation (Post-transition Period) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:46 pm on 9th December 2020.

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Photo of Stephen Flynn Stephen Flynn Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Treasury - Financial Secretary) 4:46 pm, 9th December 2020

It is a pleasure to follow Jerome Mayhew, particularly given the fact that he highlighted that just yesterday, we were all wondering what was going to be in this Bill.

What a complete and utter boorach the last 24 hours have been. Mr Carmichael rightly highlighted the shambolic scenes that we have all seen. I heard yesterday from those on the Government Benches that the reason for this is that we are currently in a fast-paced environment. This has been going on for four and a half years, with three Prime Ministers and two general elections. How many resignations? How many U-turns? And the Government leave it until three weeks before the end of the transition before they bring forward something, and they do so with less than 24 hours’ notice of what it will actually entail. What a complete and utter embarrassment. Government Members are the ones who tell us that this is the place where power should lie, yet they are the ones who treat it with more contempt than anyone else. If I was not so disappointed, I would laugh at their sheer hypocrisy.

To turn to the Bill—I am very mindful of time—Katherine Fletcher was right to highlight one of the good elements of the Bill, in relation to online VAT. We should all support that, particularly at this moment in time, given the challenges that we are all seeing on our high street. We need to see a level playing field, and if we can bring that level playing field about, we should be willing to do it. I hope, however, that the Government will continue to go further and revisit the issue of the digital services tax, where they have the powers to make further inroads into levelling that playing field.

You will be unsurprised to learn, Mr Deputy Speaker, with just 60 seconds to go, that my agreement with the Government ends there, for four simple reasons that I will cover quickly. The first one is this: England voted to leave and England will leave. Wales voted to leave and Wales will leave. Northern Ireland voted to remain and Northern Ireland is going to get the best of both worlds; it is going to get access to the EU market while simultaneously remaining in the United Kingdom. And what of Scotland? What do we get? Scotland was told that we should stay in the United Kingdom in order to lead the United Kingdom—lead, don’t leave. We wanted the same access as Northern Ireland. We put forward numerous proposals, yet time after time, this UK Government completely ignored our views and desires in that respect. That all adds up, and it adds up in the minds of the very people this UK Government are going to have to rely upon the next time we go to the polls on our independence.