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Holyrood’s parties, minus the Tories, unite on Brexit motion



Further details of a looming Holyrood vote against Theresa May’s Brexit deal have been revealed, with MSPs set to declare it would be “damaging for Scotland and the nations and regions of the UK”.

All parties apart from the Conservatives recently teamed up to announce they are putting a joint motion forward for debate at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday – less than a week before MPs at Westminster have their say on the Prime Minister’s proposals.

The SNP, Labour, the Greens and Liberal Democrats have now agreed the wording of the single motion up for debate.

It states: “Parliament agrees that both a no-deal outcome and the outcomes arising from the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom as presented to the House of Commons by the Prime Minister would be damaging for Scotland and the nations and regions of the UK as a whole and therefore recommends that they be rejected and that a better alternative be taken forward.”

A vote by MSPs against the draft EU Withdrawal Agreement will not stop the deal from going through, and is largely symbolic, but it will become the formal position of the Scottish Parliament if adopted.

The debate follows talks between Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell, Labour Brexit spokesman Neil Findlay, Ross Greer from the Greens and Lib Dem MSP Tavish Scott.

In a joint statement, the four politicians said: “This debate will give the Scottish Parliament the opportunity to express its overwhelming opposition to both the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement and a no-deal Brexit, agreeing that a better alternative must be found.”

The Scottish Conservatives’ interim leader Jackson Carlaw has previously said it was “deeply regrettable” the other opposition parties at Holyrood had “chosen to stand shoulder-to-shoulder” with the SNP on the issue.

He said: “These four parties don’t seem to get it. As numerous European leaders have made clear in recent weeks, the alternative to the Prime Minister’s deal is a no-deal scenario.

“It would be devastating for Britain. Yet that is what the SNP, Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens are risking by opposing the deal on the table.”

Despite the agreement by the four parties on the motion, there are significant divisions on what should happen if the Prime Minister’s draft agreement is rejected.

The Lib Dems, the SNP and the Greens favour a referendum which would offer voters the chance of staying in the EU, while Labour has described a second vote as merely an option.

Meanwhile, the latest Minister to quit the Government over the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan has dismissed her agreement with Brussels as a “deal in name only”.

Sam Gyimah, who resigned as Universities and Science Minister, said Britain was giving up “our voice, our veto and our vote” in Europe and would get “hammered” in the next stage of the talks on future relations with the EU.

He urged the Prime Minister not to rule out a second referendum if – as many at Westminster expect – she is defeated in the crucial Commons vote on the Withdrawal Agreement on December 11.

Senior ministers continued to argue that while the agreement was not perfect, it was the best that could be achieved.

However, with scores of Tory MPs now publicly opposed to the deal, Gyimah’s departure highlights the scale of the task facing May if she is to avoid a potentially crippling defeat in the Commons.

He is the seventh minister and ministerial aide to resign from the Government since May unveiled the draft Withdrawal Agreement less than three weeks ago.

Like Jo Johnson, who quit as transport minister, Gyimah backed Remain in the referendum, underlining the fact that opposition to the deal comes from both the Leave and Remain wings of the party.


Source : HeraldScotland

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