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Leaving the EU

Volume 652: debated on Wednesday 16 January 2019

I regularly meet the Scottish Government in a number of forums to discuss a range of matters related to EU exit. The Joint Ministerial Committee plenary met on 19 December and was attended by the First Ministers for Scotland and Wales, along with the head of the Northern Ireland civil service.

The Prime Minister has set out quite clearly that it is not her intention to request an extension of article 50.

Scotland wanted nothing to do with this ugly, self-defeating Brexit, but last night 10 Scottish Tories voted to defy their constituents, with the other three wanting something much worse for Scotland. What should the Scottish people therefore do to ensure that they are suitably democratically rewarded?

We are not taking lectures from a man who repeatedly defies the democratic will of the Scottish people by ignoring the outcome of the 2014 independence referendum.

Although we were in different Lobbies last night, I appreciate that the Secretary of State genuinely felt that the Prime Minister’s deal was the best way forward, but he can read the runes as to how likely it is that that deal, or any reincarnation of it, will get through the House, so what personal commitment will he give that he will do everything in his power to protect Scotland from the catastrophe of a no-deal exit, including by putting his country above his party and his own position?

I have been very clear about the ramifications for Scotland of a no-deal Brexit and why I want to avoid that, which is why I voted for the deal. I am also clear that I stood in the 2017 general election on a manifesto commitment to deliver an orderly Brexit for Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, and that is what I intend to do.

May I begin by associating my colleagues on these Benches with your comments, Mr Speaker, and those of the Secretary of State, regarding Andy Murray? He is indeed a great ambassador for his country, and I believe that in that capacity his best is yet to come.

Last night, this place made history: we defeated the Government’s plans by an unprecedented majority. They are plans on which the Secretary of State has staked his reputation and on which his fingerprints are indelibly printed. Given that massive defeat, will he now commit to meaningful engagement with the Scottish Government and consideration of alternative plans, including remaining in the single market and customs union?

I make no apology for supporting the Prime Minister’s deal; I believe that it was the right deal for Scotland and the United Kingdom. We will of course engage constructively with the First Minister and the Scottish Government, but if we are to do so, they must bring forward proposals other than stopping Brexit and starting another independence referendum.

I was going to suggest that the Secretary of State is ill-equipped to take this process forward in Scotland, but he makes the argument for me. Given his refusal to engage properly in discussion about alternatives, and given the fact that he is so out of step with opinion in Scotland at every level, will he now do the decent thing and resign—step aside so that someone else can take this forward?

That is getting a little tired; I thought the hon. Gentleman could think of another soundbite. I am not out of step with opinion in Scotland. People in Scotland do not want another independence referendum, and they recognise that the SNP has weaponised Brexit to try to deliver such a referendum.