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Referendum on Scottish Independence — [Mr Adrian Bailey in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:43 pm on 13th November 2017.

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Photo of Alister Jack Alister Jack Conservative, Dumfries and Galloway 5:43 pm, 13th November 2017

Yes, I do agree—[Laughter]—as hon. Members will not be surprised to hear.

Before becoming a Member of Parliament, I spent 30 years working in business, and I can tell hon. Members from my own experience and from speaking to many businessmen and women across Scotland that the business community will not thank anyone if Scotland is dragged into another divisive referendum, creating uncertainty. That would be calamitous.

Much of my argument today is about uncertainty for businesses wanting to decide on their capital expenditure projects, on resourcing themselves and on their future investment. All that is very difficult when people are wondering all the time whether we are going to be doing the extraordinary thing of heading into another independence referendum that would lead to so-called independence within Europe. We cannot be independent within Europe. I would argue that this is not about Brexit. It is not in any way a route that Scottish business should go down, outside the United Kingdom, on the basis that we do four times more trade with our United Kingdom partners than we do with our EU partners.

I say to the SNP that the legal, fair and decisive referendum was held on 18 September 2014. Polling day was preceded by two years of debate and discourse, and the people of Scotland then rejected independence. The question has been decided. To quote the former First Minister, although I will not do so in Russian, that vote, as has been said many times in this debate, was a once in a generation, once in a lifetime opportunity.