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Leaving the EU: No Deal

Volume 663: debated on Wednesday 24 July 2019

7. What recent discussions he has had with the Prime Minister on the effect on Scotland of the UK leaving the EU without a deal. (912065)

12. What recent discussions he has had with the Prime Minister on the effect on Scotland of the UK leaving the EU without a deal. (912071)

I have had regular discussions with the Prime Minister on a range of matters related to exiting the EU. It is essential that we respect the result of the 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU.

A no-deal Brexit combined with ending free movement of people, which is the inbound Prime Minister’s prospectus, would restrict Scottish business and the public sector from recruiting the staff they need, yet the Secretary of State has welcomed the appointment of the inbound Prime Minister. Can we conclude then that he is prepared to throw business and public services under a bus simply to protect his own career?

What amounts to throwing Scotland under a bus has been the actions of the SNP throughout the Brexit debates in this Parliament—voting three times against an agreement that would have allowed Scotland to leave the EU on an orderly basis and largely in accordance with its own document, “Scotland’s Place in Europe”.

In recent weeks, I have read reports that house prices in London are falling and job vacancies are down—two classic signs of an economy going into recession—and I can add to this mix the potential for a no-deal Boris Brexit boorach. Given these circumstances, what is the Secretary of State’s plan B for the Scottish economy?

The incoming Prime Minister has been very clear that he wants to leave the EU with a deal, and that is the best outcome for Scotland.

Let me read this for fear of misquoting the Secretary of State. He told the last Scottish Conservative party conference:

“Unfortunately Mr Johnson seems to behave in a way that suggests he is only focused on his own self interest and not on the interests of our country, and I find that very disappointing.”

Has the Secretary of State now overcome his disappointment, and will he continue to serve the new Prime Minister?

Just like the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues, everything I have ever said is on the record. What I want to make clear is that my priority remains Scotland’s place within the United Kingdom, and that—in government or out—will be my continuing priority.

The House will observe that that is not actually an answer to my question. The Secretary of State sits besides Cabinet colleagues who have demonstrated integrity and conviction in deciding that they will resign over the question of a no-deal Brexit. If he is against a no-deal Brexit, would it not be a better look for Scotland for him to do likewise, rather than wait to be sacked or abolished?

Of course, the hon. Gentleman’s position is not a deal Brexit or a no-deal Brexit; it is no Brexit. That is what he is seeking to bring about. There is no evidence that the SNP has at any time been serious about getting a deal for Scotland. On each occasion it has had the opportunity to vote for a deal, it has voted against it.

I hope that the Secretary of State will stay in post, but apparently that means he will have to sign the pledge, because in order to serve in the next Government he and others will have to agree to leaving the EU come 31 October, deal or no deal. So will he be at the Dispatch Box again—yes or no—or are these his last questions?