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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 James Dornan James Dornan Scottish National Party

That is probably the only time the whole chamber has agreed with me since I was elected in 2007.

I have another friend who came here 40 years ago. She worked hard, became a social worker, had a good career and has one child and three grandchildren. Her daughter is now a councillor. She has been a great benefit to the community of Glasgow and Scotland. She is the sort of person we should be trying to entice here. What happens now? As Artur does, she has to fill in a settled-status form. It is completely ridiculous that somebody who has made their life here and has benefited the community and this country is now having to prove that they are worthy of staying here.

Migration hugely benefits Scotland, so taking away free movement will impact not only individuals and families, but the country’s economy and our diverse communities. It is an absolute disgrace that EU nationals such as Artur and Marisa, who have made Scotland their home, are now being forced to apply for settled status in order to remain here. Our EU citizens should not be made to apply to the shambolic and incompetent Home Office in order to retain rights to which they are already entitled.

However, in my Glasgow Cathcart constituency, it is not only EU nationals who fear Brexit. My constituent Isabella has serious concerns about her medical supplies, some of which have short shelf-lives and come from the EU. I have heard from constituents with epilepsy who are worried about the supply of primidone, and from constituents with diabetes who are concerned about how they will get their insulin should there be no deal.

Then we come to trade. As has been pointed out by the First Minister and others, the UK Government’s own analysis shows the catastrophic impact that a no-deal outcome would have on business and trade. The assessment that was published last week predicts that a no-deal Brexit could leave the UK economy 6.3 per cent to 9 per cent smaller, after 15 years, than it would otherwise have been. That should be enough for any Government to rethink its position and look for another way out—but not in the UK.

Last week, I met a local printing firm in my constituency that does most of its business abroad. It is extremely competitive, and more than holds its own against all competitors. It has invested £8 million in the firm in the past six years, but Brexit looms over it like a dark cloud. Such companies fear that further expansion might not be possible if markets are closed off, or if access is restricted, which would clearly give their competitors an advantage.

Let us also not forget about the benefits of EU funding. In the event of a no-deal scenario, the UK’s departure from the EU would mean that UK organisations would be unable, after Brexit day, to access EU funding for European social fund projects. There are many areas throughout Glasgow Cathcart that have benefited over the years from European structural funding and European regional development fund funding. For example, the Greater Glasgow CommUniversity Trust provided access to a community education degree, and benefited a number of my constituents from Castlemilk. That degree programme provided access to work paid at what was then the living wage, and provided on-the-job training and practical experience.

EU funding, future trade prospects, the supply of medicines, freedom of movement and the rights of EU nationals are all threatened. They are threatened by a shambolic Westminster Government that has shown no leadership throughout the process. Instead, the only leadership that Scotland has witnessed is that of the First Minister and our outstanding Brexit secretary, Mike Russell. Today, thanks to their work, for the first time in 20 years the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales have debated the same motion simultaneously. That is an example of two national Governments working together in the best interests of their people—which is in stark contrast to the actions of the Tory Government at Westminster.

I could talk for another six minutes about how a no-deal Brexit would adversely affect my constituency—