MSPs vote to reject Brexit withdrawal plans and no-deal scenario
Holyrood has formally voted against both Theresa May’s Brexit deal and the prospect of quitting the European Union with no deal in place.
MSPs voted by 92 to 29 for a motion which said both these options “would be damaging for Scotland and the nations and regions of the UK as a whole”.
As a result they called for the Brexit deal to be rejected when it is voted on at Westminster on December 11 and for “a better alternative be taken forward”.
The motion which was passed had been drawn up by the SNP, Labour, the Scottish Greens and the Liberal Democrats – with Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell describing it as a “unique collaboration”.
After it was overwhelmingly passed Mr Russell said: “The Scottish Parliament came together to say we cannot let this happen, and the UK Government must now respect today’s decisive vote.
“The UK Government’s Brexit deal will make Scotland poorer and they must now listen and act on the Scottish Parliament’s overwhelming decision to reject it.”
Only Conservative MSPs at Holyrood voted against the motion, with SNP MSP Bruce Crawford, convener of the Parliament’s Constitution Committee, saying afterwards the cross-party stance by MSPs demanded a new approach from the PM.
Mr Crawford added: “With the Scottish Parliament now overwhelmingly against the false choice of Theresa May’s deal or no deal, it is time for the UK government to listen.
“Theresa May’s deal is at this point little more than a hypothetical exercise, with all sides of the House of Commons determined to defeat it on Tuesday.
“The clock is ticking. It’s time for a new approach and to look at the real alternatives – whether that be a second referendum giving Scotland the opportunity to remain in the EU, or the compromise proposal of staying in the single market that the Scottish Government unveiled two years ago.”
During the debate Mr Russell had argued Mrs May’s draft withdrawal agreement was “about saving the Prime Minister, not about saving her country”.
And he warned it would prolong the UK’s Brexit “uncertainty” – saying this could last until December 2022 if the transition period has to be extended.
He warned: “That’s at least four years of uncertainty to add to the two-and-a-half we’ve already had.
“Four more years of stagnation and lack of investment, with no guarantee that a free trade deal will ever be struck. Those are the fruits of Conservative government. More of the same and worse.
“More meaningless assertions, false claims, cliff-edge negotiations and economic lack of confidence and security. It mustn’t happen. Scotland needs and deserves better than the Prime Minister’s blindfold Brexit.”
Labour Brexit spokesman Neil Findlay said: “MSPs have come together to show their contempt for Theresa May’s botched Brexit deal.
“The Tories need to realise their plan is bad for Scotland and the rest the UK, bad for jobs and industries and bad for our communities.”
But Scottish Conservatives said: “The PM’s Brexit deal honours the vote of 2016, and means we can leave the EU in an orderly manner without sparking the chaos and misery a no-deal would likely bring.”
The Tories’ constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins had argued: “Either we leave the EU on the basis of the orderly Withdrawal Agreement that the Prime Minister and her team have negotiated, or something very close to it, or we crash out of the EU on a no-deal basis that would be a disaster for the economy.”
He stressed Brexit is happening because the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU in 2016, adding: “If it turns out that we, the Scottish Conservatives, are alone in standing up for the one million Scots who voted for that outcome, so be it.”