Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil voted against triggering Article 50 in the House of Commons last night (Wednesday) following a two day debate on legislation which will allow the UK Government to begin the formal process of leaving the EU.
Mr MacNeil said the Government’s plans were leading the country to an unknown destination which was ‘gross irresponsibility’ and could have severe consequences.
All of Scotland’s MPs bar one, Tory MP David Mundell, voted against the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.
In his speech Mr MacNeil said that the House of Commons had ‘taken leave of its senses’ and was just ‘hoping for the best’ in Brexit negotiations.
He said: “The Prime Minister has said that no deal is better than a bad deal, but no deal would mean for farmers that meat had 22% tariffs, dairy had 36% tariffs and fish—this particularly affects my constituency—had 12% tariffs. People assume that the House of Commons knows what it is doing, but it does not. It is crossing its fingers and hoping for the best.
“ We are told time after time in the Chamber that people know what they voted for. Perhaps they knew what they were voting for—to leave the EU—but they certainly did not know the destination, and neither does this House. The UK is on a precipice.”
He added that there are only six member states of the United Nations that are not in regional trade agreements with the UK soon to join this list.
He continued: “The UK will find itself, for the first time since 1960, not in a free trade agreement. It joined the European Free Trade Association, the original free trade agreement, in 1960, and that is how it has been since then. Even North Korea signed up to one in 1988. The UK is boldly going where even North Korea fails to go.
“If that does not give Members pause for thought, what will? As they head over the edge of the cliff, they will take their constituents and the poorest people of society with them.
“Members are hellbent on going to any destination so long as it involves leaving the EU. That is gross irresponsibility. There is only thing—I repeat, one thing—that can save Scotland, and that is independence, and independence very soon.”
The SNP put forward a reasoned amendment to the Government’s plans which was backed by parliamentarians from across the UK. It called on the House to decline a Second Reading to the UK government’s EU bill to trigger Article 50.
The SNP and others backing the motion argued that the UK government had failed to set out provision for effective consultation with the devolved administrations; failed to publish a White Paper; refused to guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK and left unanswered the implications on key policy areas including withdrawing from the Single Market.