Televised Election Debates — [Mr Virendra Sharma in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:58 pm on 7th January 2019.

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Photo of Tommy Sheppard Tommy Sheppard Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (House of Lords) 5:58 pm, 7th January 2019

That is welcome and important. In the country that I represent in this Chamber, the two major political parties—Labour and Tory—are lucky if they can command half of the electorate’s support between them. Almost half of the entire electorate places its allegiance with parties other than the two main parties in the United Kingdom. That needs to be understood and built into the process.

Before Christmas, when we had the shenanigans about the debate on what to do about Brexit—it was not meant to be an election debate—we had a situation whereby the SNP, the third largest party in this House and the second largest political party in the United Kingdom in terms of its membership, was likely to be excluded from a debate between the leaders of the Conservative and Labour parties, although it did not take place in the end. The situation was all the more bizarre—the shadow Minister might want to respond to this—given that the leader of the Labour party, as I understand it, has said that if there were to be a general election in the coming months, Labour would commit in its manifesto to implementing Brexit. It might do it differently, but it would none the less commit to implementing Brexit. Therefore, we were going to have a debate between a Conservative way of doing Brexit and a Labour way of doing Brexit, ignoring other voices, which do not want Brexit to happen at all, and conveniently ignoring the fact that opinion polls consistently show that a majority of people across the United Kingdom do not want Brexit to happen at all.