Peter Grant – 2019 Speech on Brexit

Below is the text of the speech made by Peter Grant, the SNP MP for Glenrothes, in the House of Commons on 3 April 2019.

On 18 July 2018, the SNP became the first party in this Parliament to call for an extension of the article 50 deadline. The need for a real extension is more urgent now than it was then. Although we have a number of concerns about the wording of the Bill, we will compromise on those concerns just now, and support it. Hopefully, we can improve it at the next stage.

The Government are still trying to blackmail the House by insisting that the choice is between the Prime Minister’s rotten deal and no deal at all. That claim is simply not true; revocation is still an option. We hope to amend the Bill to make that perfectly clear. I commend my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry) for the part she played in confirming that point in a court case on which Her Majesty’s Government spent £150,000 of our money; they sent lawyers to the European Court just to tell it that the Government did not have a view on the matter under discussion, which seemed a good use of money.

Ironically, in the long term, possibly the best way to get the Brexit that people actually voted for would be to stop this insane process and start all over again before it is too late. I was disappointed that Labour did not fully support a motion that my right hon. Friend the Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford) put forward that would have done that. I hope that Labour accepts that that was a mistake, and will support a similar motion if they get the chance. Our concern is that the Bill leaves too much in the hands of a Prime Minister who cannot be trusted to get anything right; we will seek to get that amended as well.

We need a clear reason for the extension, and that will dictate how long the extension has to be. Our preference would be for an extension to allow a people’s vote—not a rerun of the 2016 referendum, but a different vote on a different question. If the Government were confident that their withdrawal agreement had the support of the people, they would not run away so quickly from the chance to give people a say.

Earlier this afternoon, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber held up a copy of “Scotland’s Place in Europe” in the House, and it was howled down by the Conservatives. They can laugh at it, but Scotland’s place is in Europe, and Scotland will retain its proper place as a full, sovereign member of the family of European nations.