Leaving the EU: Extension Period Negotiations — [Mr Laurence Robertson in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:29 am on 22nd May 2019.

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Photo of Peter Grant Peter Grant Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union) 10:29 am, 22nd May 2019

Again, I hope that nobody would suggest that the problems in the UK travel industry are completely unrelated to Brexit or that the problems in the British steel industry are completely unrelated to Brexit. It is not the only problem—in manufacturing, we have not kept up with the advances in productivity of our European neighbours, for example—but anyone who would suggest that this catalogue of company failures is not in any way related to the damaging Brexit that the Conservatives are leading us through really needs to face up to reality.

I understand the desire to respect the result of the referendum. I want the 62% result in my country to be respected as well. My national Government put forward a compromise as long ago as December 2016, which was laughed out of court at the time—to the extent that the Prime Minister has actually forgotten that it ever existed. When we are talking about negotiations that might happen now, after the March deadline, is it not a pity that there was not proper negotiation before the red lines were painted?

We have an electoral system in these islands that is deliberately rigged to turn minority popular support into majority Government. When the people choose not to give a big majority Government, the system cannot cope. The Prime Minister came back in 2017 and acted as if she had a huge majority in Parliament, when most of the time she has struggled to maintain a majority within her own party, and that is why she has never been able to get any kind of deal through.

It is not just about trade. Most of the contributions we have heard today have been about trade deals. World Trade Organisation terms—assuming we are allowed in to the WTO, which is not automatic—do nothing about Horizon, Erasmus, the European Medicines Agency, security co-operation, the rights of 4.5 million citizens, the ability to share data to cloud storage in the European Union, or about a million and one other things that the European Union brings us as benefits that have hardly, if at all, been mentioned in the debate this morning. The European Union is not simply a trading organisation. Membership has brought massive economic, social, cultural and educational benefits to our people and it is a tragedy that in the lead-up to the referendum, so few politicians in this place had the courage to stand up and say that.

I was asked about my holiday plans. I will be holidaying in the country that, according to “Rough Guides”, is the most beautiful country in the world, and I would encourage lots of other people to do the same.

As far as what will happen if and when the withdrawal agreement Bill comes back, the position of the Scottish National party is as it has always been. We will oppose any Brexit that takes away the rights of our citizens. We will oppose any Brexit that makes our people poorer. We will oppose any Brexit that takes us further away from the Scotland that we want to be and that our people have told us they want us to help to build.

While tomorrow it is quite possible that the far-right Brexit party will secure a significant victory in other parts of the United Kingdom, the polls suggest that even after 12 years in Government, the Scottish National party will have its most successful European election ever. That is what happens if a party of Government is prepared to show leadership and to face up to the myths, lies and misinformation that Mr Farage and his party and his previous parties have spread for so long.

If tomorrow the results in the rest of the United Kingdom are taken as a message about discontentment with the European Union among the population of some partners in this Union, the results north of the border will give a clear statement about the dissatisfaction of the citizens of my country with the Union that we have been part of for 300 years too long.