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European Union Withdrawal Negotiations

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 5th March 2019.

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Photo of Jackson Carlaw Jackson Carlaw Conservative

I say to Mr Cole-Hamilton that I voted no in the independence referendum, and I voted remain in the EU referendum. I very much hope that I will never have to vote in another referendum in my lifetime, and I intend to ensure that I do not.

The SNP Government motion that is before us today argues that MPs should oppose the Prime Minister’s deal and instead demand an extension to article 50. Of course, that option is now available to them. However, I strongly urge MPs not to go down that route. Crucially, a decision to delay will not solve any of the issues that we face today. After any extension, the choice will still be no deal, this deal or one close to it. Indeed, for us in the UK, it may only make matters worse by extending—for weeks, possibly months or even years—the damaging uncertainty that firms face. As Alex Neil said:

“Brexit will happen whether we like it or not. The democratic wishes of the people have to be respected. To do otherwise would be to risk a huge backlash and undermine the principles of our democracy.”

I can see why a nationalist party, which wants to create and exploit such divisions and perpetuate chaos and uncertainty, might see the upsides to that outcome. It is a nationalist party that argues that leaving a 40-year-old union is bad but that leaving a 300-year-old union—which is many times more important economically, culturally and in many other ways—is good.

I urge other parties of reason to hear this. Delaying a decision on Brexit is not a solution; it is simply a way to prolong the indecision and, by doing so, to keep open for longer the divisions that the country faces and to allow even deeper ones to be exploited all over again by the SNP. I back a deal, and I back Brexit being delivered. Ahead of us lie challenges and opportunities. In Scotland we need a Government that does not look backwards, bitter and riddled with grievance, but focuses on creating a dynamic, entrepreneurial country that succeeds in the new international environment. The SNP Government is no longer acting in good faith for the people of Scotland, who need fresh, clean leadership. In just two years, we will have the chance to elect a Government that will give them just that.

I move amendment S5M-16107.1, to leave out from “reiterates” to end and insert:

“respects the results of constitutional referendums; supports leaving the EU with a deal; notes that a no deal outcome will happen by the automatic operation of the law unless an agreement is reached; further notes that this would still be the case after an extension to Article 50, and believes that the Scottish Government is no longer acting in good faith for the people of Scotland.”