Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:38 am on 10th December 2020.

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Photo of Tommy Sheppard Tommy Sheppard Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons 11:38 am, 10th December 2020

It seems the Conservative party’s toxic political cocktail of British exceptionalism and arrogance has hit the buffers of the real world. We await Sunday, but if there is a deal, it will be a sordid and pitiful affair. Can the Leader of the House at least answer this: in what fashion will the Government involve Parliament in this endgame? Will they put down a resolution, introduce a Bill, table a statutory instrument or simply make a statement, which we can neither amend, nor agree? With three weeks to go, if the Government do not yet know how they will present to Parliament our future relationship with the EU, is this not only a failure of statecraft, but a shocking level of domestic political mismanagement?

It seems that the people of Northern Ireland will get to march to a European beat after all. In consequence, the Government have withdrawn part 5 of their United Kingdom Internal Market Bill, but the assault on devolution remains, so may we have a debate on why Scotland is the only nation within the UK that is getting a hard Brexit against its will? If a bespoke solution is available for Northern Ireland, why is there not one for Scotland? The arguments against are unconvincing. A border is a border; it has the same legal and economic status whether on land or on the seabed. Yesterday, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was effusive about what he called the “primacy of democracy”, saying that it is

“for the people of Northern Ireland to decide”—[Official Report, 9 December 2020; Vol. 685, c. 849.]

their future. May we debate why the Government take that view regarding one part of the UK but not another? May I give the Leader of the House another opportunity to say whether he will respect the outcome of the Scottish general election in May next year? That is something he has refused to do so far.

Finally, today is international Human Rights Day. Given his comments a moment ago, will he support a debate on the Justice Secretary’s plan to review the Human Rights Act and give an assurance that it will not weaken the protection of the European Court of Human Rights or the authority of the devolved Administrations in these matters?