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Article 50: “Scotland's Place in Europe”

Volume 622: debated on Thursday 9 March 2017

11. Whether the Government plan to refer to the recommendations of “Scotland’s Place in Europe”, published by the Scottish Government on 20 December 2016, in their notification to the European Council of the invocation of article 50. (909147)

14. If the Government will respond to “Scotland’s Place in Europe”, published by the Scottish Government on 20 December 2016, before invoking article 50. (909150)

I am going to get the hang of this, Mr Speaker. I ask to group questions 11 and 14. In a few years, I will get used to this place—then I will retire.

I said retire, not resign.

We are working closely with the Scottish Government to ensure the best deal for Scotland and the rest of the UK as we leave the European Union. We share many objectives, including having an open and outward-looking country, ensuring access to labour, collaborating on science and research, protecting workers’ rights, having a smooth and orderly exit process, and guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals in the UK and of UK nationals in the European Union. We should also agree that there should be no new barriers to living and doing business within our own Union. They should not be created.

Who knows what the Scottish people will think of such an imprecise answer to a specific question? Let me try something else that may help the Secretary of State. How many trade negotiators have been recruited to deal with matters such as the very specific and unique needs of some sectors of the Scottish economy?

Many trade negotiators have been recruited, particularly by the Department for International Trade. I recommend that the hon. Gentleman raises the question with that Department, because it has been very busy at that in recent months. The simple truth is that the British Government share the hon. Gentleman’s aims for his constituents and for the people of Scotland—namely, we want the best possible deal, which will be best for the Scottish economy, for Scottish business and, most of all, for Scottish people.

Following on from the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Roger Mullin), I am glad to inform the Secretary of State and, indeed, the House that an STV poll shows that support for independence has gone up to 50:50. Given the Secretary of State’s intransigence and his Government’s determination for a hard right-wing Tory Brexit, which way does he think that poll will tip as he continues in his intransigence?

First, I do not recognise the phrase “hard Brexit” or, for that matter, “right-wing Tory Brexit”. Secondly, I am not a great believer in polls when it comes to referendums; they do not exactly work very well. If the hon. Lady wants to go with polls, perhaps she should go with the poll of the Scottish people, who say they do not want another referendum.

I respect the desire of the Scottish Government to contribute to the Brexit process, and that of the Welsh, Northern Irish and some English regions. May I urge the Government to reflect on all representations made and proceed with a policy that works for the whole United Kingdom?

My hon. Friend is exactly right, and that is the intention of the Government, which is why we are going for a comprehensive, overarching free trade agreement that will deliver extremely beneficial results for Britain and—I stress this point—for the European Union as well.