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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 Murdo Fraser Murdo Fraser Conservative

The way to rule out a no-deal Brexit is to vote for a deal. It cannot be ruled out in the abstract.

I regret that members of the Labour Party, members of the SNP, members of the Liberal Democrats and, yes, some members of the Conservative Party voted against the withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons and put us at risk of a no-deal Brexit. If we want to avoid that outcome, we must vote for a deal.

There were members in the House of Commons who were concerned about the Irish backstop question, and the House of Commons later demonstrated that if those concerns could be dealt with, a majority would exist for the withdrawal agreement. That is why the Prime Minister has continued to negotiate with the EU27. If a solution to the backstop can be found, we will have a way forward. We need to find a way through the current situation, because it is important that the Government of the United Kingdom delivers on the outcome of the EU referendum. To fail to do so would be a democratic outrage.

As Jackson Carlaw said, we should not forget that more than 1 million Scots voted leave in 2016. To listen to some SNP members, one would think that that group has been airbrushed out of history, yet the biggest single component of those 1 million Scots were SNP voters. It is those self-same SNP voters who, in large numbers, switched to the Conservatives in the general election in 2017, so disillusioned were they with the SNP’s stance.

I know that there are members here who believe that we should have a so-called people’s vote—in other words, a rerun of the 2016 referendum. We know that that is the SNP position and the Liberal Democrat position, and we think that it might be the Labour position, depending on what day of the week it is. However, we have already had a people’s vote. We had it in 2016 and the people made their choice. It seems to me that it is fundamentally dangerous, at a time when there is already so much distrust of our political institutions, for the establishment to say, in effect, to the people, “You’ve made the wrong choice, and we’re going to keep asking you the same question until you give us the right answer.” What could be more dangerous for democracy than that?