Leaving the European Union — [James Gray in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 6:42 pm on 1st April 2019.

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Photo of Deidre Brock Deidre Brock Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Devolved Government Relations), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment and Rural Affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales) 6:42 pm, 1st April 2019

Absolutely. I completely associate myself with that comment. My constituency is particularly multi-dimensional, with a number of ethnicities across the board. That is something I relish the most about my constituency, and it goes back hundreds of years, because Leith is a dock area. The embracing of new people on our shores is particularly obvious in Edinburgh North and Leith, and I am proud to be associated with that.

The sentiment repeated to me regularly by my constituents, with very few exceptions, is that they want to keep our links with the EU, preferably remaining a full member state. That might be because we understand the benefits of the EU, freedom of movement in particular. As I am about to elaborate, just under 10% of the population are non-UK citizens of the EU—we have more than twice the UK average concentration—and we understand the benefits of immigration and the added cultural and economic value that immigrants bring. We understand how damaging Brexit will be—a chaotic one in particular. Parliament should heed such voices and we in this place have a duty to look out for their best interests.

We know that the deal negotiated by successive, legendary Brexit Secretaries, who all seem to have resigned in disgust at their own failures, has been disowned three times—and the cock has not yet crowed. There will be no rehabilitation and there is yet time for another denial if the deal is brought back a fourth time. I hope that the Prime Minister is willing to listen to the advice of the Lord Chancellor at the weekend and to acknowledge that the deal has no chance of passing and that she should be looking at other options. I certainly recommend heartily to her the revocation of the article 50 notification letter, a judicial inquiry into the conduct of the 2016 referendum and whatever follows from that. We could top it all off, as I said, by copying Ireland’s citizens’ assembly model to determine a way forward.

We should certainly make certain that no future referendum on such an important matter is allowed to proceed on the basis of hearsay, speculation, fevered invention and blatant prejudice. A proper position based on things such as facts and expert testimony should be set out by anyone advocating major change—there are precedents for that. In any case, revoking article 50 seems to be the most sensible course of action. There is no point trying to carry this nonsense any further forward.