Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain a member of the European Union, and we in the SNP are doing all we can to make sure Scotland’s voice is heard and to protect Scotland’s place in Europe.
The UK Government’s Bill giving the Prime Minister the power to trigger Article 50 had its Second Reading on Tuesday 31 January and Wednesday 1 February, for which the SNP tabled a reasoned amendment which would have declined to allow the Bill to move forward. Our amendment received cross-party support from Labour, Conservative, Green, Plaid Cymru, Liberal Democrat and SDLP MPs, and was selected as the only challenge to the UK Government’s Bill to trigger Article 50. Scotland’s MPs were 58 to 1 against the Bill.
The SNP then tabled 50 amendments to the legislation for Committee Stage the week of Monday 6 February, attempting to ensure the right financial and social protections are in place before the UK begins the process of leaving the EU. The UK Government’s White Paper, published after the second reading, gives no guarantee on even devolved powers coming back to the Scottish Parliament; it offers no clarity on the status of EU nationals; no clarity on seeking agreement with the Joint Ministerial Committee and nothing on the ‘bad deal or no deal’ reset clause. Unfortunately, though we continued to have cross-party support for our amendments addressing these shortfalls, none were added to the Bill.
Therefore – with little detail from the Prime Minister on what the arrangements are in place for workers’ rights, EU nationals living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU, and the impact on the economy – my SNP colleagues and I could not vote for the triggering of Article 50. Rest assured that we will continue to act in the best interests of Scotland and to respect the interests of Scotland’s vote in favour of remaining in the EU.