Deidre Brock MP

Member of Parliament for Edinburgh North and Leith

Brexit Update

Brexit is a slow motion horror story with Ministers who are supposed to be in charge of the process clearly out of touch with what is going on in their own government and at a loss to know how to address the issues in the negotiations.

Deidre Brock MP

I believe that Scotland would be better off staying in the EU. Short of staying in the EU membership of the customs union and the single market would be in our interests.

 I am saddened by the loss of freedom of movement, particularly for young people getting started in adult life who will lose the right to live, work and study in those other 27 nations and I am disgusted that the rights of UK citizens currently living elsewhere in the EU have been ignored while the UK's Brexit negotiators try to work out what they want and the UK Government tries to agree a position.

 I am more and more convinced that the calculations of the UK Government are around political advantage or survival only rather than what would be advantageous for the people it is supposed to serve. The way in which EU citizens currently resident here have been treated by the UK Government is appalling as well – their interests are being badly served and the recent announcement that they will be required to pay a fee of £65 merely to keep the rights they already have would be a profiteering disgrace from any government.

I am pleased that the Scottish Government has pledged to cover that fee for the EU citizens living here and equally pleased that the Scottish Government has demonstrated that it values the contribution made by EU citizens to our communities.

We supported the Dominic Grieve amendment to the Withdrawal Bill that would have resulted in a vote on the substance of the Brexit deal when we see it (the 'meaningful vote' amendment) but we did not have the required support to get it through – Mr Grieve did not support his own amendment and I will leave him to explain for himself why he decided to vote against it.

The UK Government should be explaining why it did not schedule sufficient time in the debate on the Withdrawal Bill for devolution to be properly discussed. Its programme motion superficially gave three hours for debate but the archaic voting procedures in the House of Commons meant that the time available to debate how Brexit will affect devolution was reduced to just quarter of an hour – all of which was taken up with an empty speech by a Government Minister – the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office rather than the Scottish Secretary.

No MP representing a Scottish constituency, a Welsh constituency or a Northern Ireland constituency had the opportunity to speak. The Government business managers know how the House of Commons works and they can schedule debates in a manner which allows proper scrutiny – they clearly did not want that this time. When Ian Blackford protested this at Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) last week he was ignored and when he pressed a motion that Parliament should meet in private the Speaker ejected him from the chamber. I and my colleagues left PMQs with him.

I later asked the House of Commons Library (impartial researchers) whether any Speaker had ever before refused such a motion and I was told "On every occasion on which the motion has been heard by the Chair for which records are immediately available the question has been put forthwith in accordance with the Standing Order". The Standing Order requires that the Speaker put such a motion forthwith and not defer it. Mr Speaker, on this occasion, decided not to 'hear it' until later.

I share the concerns that people have been expressing about protections for workers' rights, for the environment and for animal welfare provisions – especially considering the comments about red tape coming from Tory MPs – and I am continuing to press on these issues.

 I also have great concerns about food production post Brexit given comments made by Michael Gove about his intended replacement for the Common Agricultural Policy payments which would seem to open up the possibility of those being paid to landowners whose interests do not include producing food.

Regarding the Dubs Amendment, I think it's crucial that the UK's departure from the EU does not lead to any removal of protection for children seeking refugee protection. You have my assurance that my SNP colleagues and I will fully support this principle throughout all stages of the EU Withdrawal Bill.

Brexit is a slow motion horror story with Ministers who are supposed to be in charge of the process clearly out of touch with what is going on in their own government and at a loss to know how to address the issues in the negotiations.

Policy positions change whenever it seems that opinion within the Tory party might not support the current position and there is no agreement on how to move forward. That is no way to run anything and is certainly no way to make such a major change in the geopolitical positioning of any nation, state or region.

I will do what I can to address all of the issues we have in front of us and my SNP colleagues will do likewise, both at Westminster and in Edinburgh. My hopes are not high but my determination is.

My full voting record can be accessed here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/search/MemberContributions?memberId=4417&type=Divisions

the constitutional machinery

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Tuesday, 13 November 2018

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