United Kingdom Internal Market

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 18th August 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of George Adam George Adam Scottish National Party

Presiding Officer, I know what you are thinking—what can I possibly bring to the debate after a long afternoon in the chamber?

I want to bring up a couple of points and go over what we have discussed. The Tories started off with Dean Lockhart, who waffled on about various things that he believed and defended the Tories and the UK Tory Government as much as he possibly could. I actually believe that, in his heart of hearts, he knows that there are issues with the proposals.

Then we had Peter Chapman, who attacked the NFU. I never thought that I would see the day when Peter Chapman attacked the NFU, but I heard him do that today. My colleagues will be cutting and pasting his comments on to social media as quickly as they possibly can.

We have also heard from Alexander Burnett. All that I can say about him is that he must be one miserable individual, because I have never heard any positivity about anything from him in the chamber.

The contributions from members on the Tory benches really show the difference between them and SNP members, who are arguing for a positive future in Scotland.

Members should do not think for one minute that, as the Tories would like you to believe, the internal market is a simple case of replacing EU rules with the proposals that are set out in the UK Government’s white paper. It is a lot more than that—it is a power grab from the devolved nations by Westminster. Not only that, but the proposed processes are woolly at best. Even if we could all agree on everything, it would still be difficult to work within them.

The UK Government claims that the proposals are to protect business and consumers, but that appears not to be the case. For example, some of our world-renowned products, such as Scottish meat and fish, which are reared to high animal welfare standards, could be ruthlessly undercut by cheap, mass-produced food from outside Scotland, where far less care is given to the product that is produced. We would be required to accept such goods that meet whatever standards the UK Government decides. For me, that is a worrying prospect, because the UK Government would decide on anything that it wished when it came to a trade deal.

Talking out loud about the first thing that comes to mind, let us say that Donald Trump comes to town and decides that he wants a trade deal with the United Kingdom. Trump and the UK Government would quite happily sell their grandmothers to make sure that they would get that deal done—not for the benefit of Scotland or for the people of Scotland, but for their own grubby self-interest. That is the only reason that they would want to do it.

It has been a bit of a panto season in the chamber today: when anyone mentions chlorinated chicken, the Tories get really animated. The point is that if a trade deal with the United States meant that there was a chance that there would be chlorinated chicken in Scotland, what would the Scottish Parliament be able to do to stop it? Under the current proposals, it would be able to do absolutely nothing.

Why do we not find a way for the four devolved nations to work together, with mutual respect, to resolve their differences? That is the way that things are done anywhere else in the world, but not here, where it is all about the Tory Government regaining control and then taking even more control.

If we look at the scenario in front of us, we see that the UK Government proposals would at best confuse, and at worst negate, the arrangement that we now have. That, for me, is a worry. For the sake of debate, imagine a situation in which the Scottish Parliament does not agree with the UK Government. I shudder to think that that would ever happen, but if it did, there is nothing in the proposed processes that gives any of the devolved nations an opportunity to do anything about it.

I have been a member of the SNP since I was a teenager, and that was not yesterday. I have wanted Scottish independence for most of my life, but I also believe passionately in this place—our nation’s Parliament. It is an institution that I respect and would defend with every fibre of my being. The proposed UK internal market is a threat to this place. We cannot allow a Government that was not elected by Scotland—that Scotland did not vote for—to dictate to Scotland’s Parliament.