Skip to main content

Leaving the EU: Devolution Settlement

Volume 659: debated on Wednesday 8 May 2019

8. What recent discussions his Department has had with the Scottish Government on the potential effect on the devolution settlement of the UK leaving the EU. (910707)

9. What recent discussions his Department has had with the Scottish Government on the potential effect on the devolution settlement of the UK leaving the EU. (910708)

10. What recent discussions his Department has had with the Scottish Government on the potential effect on the devolution settlement of the UK leaving the EU. (910709)

11. What recent discussions his Department has had with the Scottish Government on the potential effect on the devolution settlement of the UK leaving the EU. (910710)

It has emerged that the polling company Ipsos MORI has been commissioned by the Cabinet Office to conduct polling in Scotland on the state of the Union. That is surely a sign that this Government are deeply rattled by the growing support for independence. Was the Secretary of State made aware of this, and will he support the full publication of this taxpayer-funded polling?

It might surprise the hon. Lady to learn that all Governments, including the Scottish Government, poll on their policies.

The Secretary of State asked for context in an earlier answer. The House of Commons Library has a Government-issued leaflet from 2014 explaining why people should vote against Scottish independence. Under the heading “An influential voice in important places”, it says:

“As one of the EU’s ‘big four’ nations, the UK is more able to protect Scottish interests”.

Ruth Davidson herself said that voting no meant that we would stay in the EU. Will the Secretary of State take this opportunity to get his story straight?

To give the hon. Lady some context, David Cameron made it very clear in 2013 that there would be an EU referendum. The SNP and the former First Minister’s assertion was that Scotland would automatically stay in the EU if it became independent. That was not correct. The question for those advocating a yes in 2014, as it is now, is how an independent Scotland would become a member of the EU.

Many of us in Argyll and Bute have been trying for a long time to pin down the Secretary of State on this question. Will he now take the opportunity to spell out exactly what he believes the economic benefits will be, specifically for my Argyll and Bute constituency, of ending freedom of movement?

We are engaged in a year-long consultation on the immigration White Paper. I am happy, as part of that consultation and engagement, to come to Argyll and Bute, just as the Home Secretary went to Aberdeenshire last week, to hear what businesses and people there have to say.

It was reported at the weekend that the Secretary of State could not even get toast out of a toaster. We cannot get an answer out of him. Are there any circumstances whereby he would support the right of the Scottish people to determine their own future through a referendum?

I support the right of the Scottish people to determine their future through a referendum. They already have—on 18 September 2014, when they voted decisively to remain in the United Kingdom.

They asked for more powers over welfare and they have delayed them or handed them back to the Department for Work and Pensions; they asked for the power to cut air departure tax and they have U-turned; they asked for power over VAT assignment receipts and they have postponed it. Does my right hon. Friend agree that, rather than moaning about all the powers they do not have, Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government should get on with using the extensive powers they do have to make the lives of my constituents in East Renfrewshire better?

I absolutely agree. The Scottish Parliament has tremendous potential to make a difference for the people of Scotland, but it will not do so as long as it is bogged down in the SNP’s independence agenda. We hear about further legislation being introduced on that rather than on issues that matter: health, education and transport.

People in Corby are overwhelmingly pro the United Kingdom Union, but voted overwhelmingly to leave the European Union. What impact does my right hon. Friend believe that ignoring referendum results and not leaving the European Union would have on the devolution settlement?

I am absolutely clear that the results of both referendums—in 2014 and in 2016—should be honoured. The Government are determined to do so.