I am further writing to provide an update on the Brexit process as you have previously contacted me about this subject.
As you may be aware, last night there were a series of votes on possible Brexit outcomes, as alternatives to the Prime Minister’s disastrous deal. I want to take you through the options that were before us last night and the reasons I voted the way I did.
These were the first round of indicative votes on potential options and we voted knowing some of them will come back, hopefully modified on Monday for further consideration. Our priority last night was therefore to ensure our first preference regarding Brexit – no Brexit at all – was supported. Should these options prove not to work we will then consider whether there are further compromises we need to make to stop a hard Brexit outcome.
Firstly the SNP put forward an option that would mean the UK could not leave the EU on any deal without first having received consent from the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. I am sure you will agree that this should be an important principle for the UK Government to follow. Indeed, the EU operates by having to achieve consensus of all its nation states, sadly the UK is not such a union of equals. Unfortunately, our motion was not selected by the Speaker to be voted on.
Turning to the votes that did take place:
Option B from Tory MP John Baron was to leave the UK without a deal, the SNP obviously voted against this deeply damaging proposition.
Option D from Tory MP Nick Boles regarding a type of customs union. The SNP abstained on this as it did not go far enough on the critical issues of freedom of movement nor did it cover the need for membership of the single market. This may be an issue that is returned to in a modified form on Monday.
Option H from Tory MP George Eustice regarding EFTA and EEA. The SNP voted against this as it is simply not going to happen.
Option J from Kenneth Clarke regarding a UK wide customs union was another we abstained on for similar reasons to that of the Nick Boles option and is one that may return on Monday.
Option K from Jeremy Corbyn was about Labour’s alternative plan which we abstained on as it supports Brexit taking place and has a rather woolly and unrealistic proposition for the future relationship.
Option L from my colleague Joanna Cherry was supported by the SNP as it would mean stopping Brexit if we were within days of a no deal Brexit. It would give us a way out.
Labour MP Margaret Beckett proposed option M, which meant that no Brexit deal could be passed by the House without being put to a referendum first. This again would have been a route to stopping Brexit.
Finally option O from Tory Marcus Fysh was opposed by the SNP as it was another that sought a damaging no deal Brexit.
Unfortunately, no option considered last night achieved a majority, but I hope this helps to explain not only the SNP’s strategy last night, but also the reasons I voted the way I did.
My SNP colleagues and I will continue to fight hard to stop Brexit, to protect the interests of the people of Scotland and to provide rational arguments in the face of the collapsing Tory Government and Labour opposition parties. It remains the case that in spite of our best efforts and arguments we may not be able to save the UK from itself. If Brexit does come to pass the people of Scotland will need to consider carefully what options we have open to us to protect our interests and move on to a more positive destination.
Ronnie Cowan MP
Member of Parliament for Inverclyde