Brexit: Ian Blackford grilled over SNP's stance on trade deal
The SNP MP was confronted by Times Radio host Tom Newton Dunn over his party’s plan to vote against Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal in the Commons on Wednesday. The radio host pointed out Mr Blackford, who had been an adamant opposer of a no deal scenario, was in fact missing the only opportunity to vote for the only alternative to WTO solution. Mr Newton Dunn said: “So, your party is adamantly against no deal but in effect on Wednesday you are voting for precisely that by voting against the only deal on the table and effective.
“How on earth does that work?”
The SNP MP replied: “What we’re doing is we’re voting against the deal that the Prime Minister is putting in front of us, we’re not supporting no deal.
“No deal is something that would be a disaster for all of us.
“The point that I think we’re making, Tom, is that the best deal that we’ve got is the one that we currently have with the transition that we’re still in the single market, the customs union.
“All the economic evidence, including that of the Government, is that we’re all going to be poorer with this deal.”
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He added: “Quite frankly, particularly when you look at the impact of the pandemic on the economy as we stand, the fact that we’re going to have a second hit as a consequence of this Brexit deal…
“What I would argue is, of course people in England voted for Brexit as they did in Wales, Northern Ireland through the Northern Ireland protocol is getting access to the single market and the customs union.
“Scotland voted to Remain and we sought to sign the compromise with the UK Government over the course of the last 4 years and we’re getting battered.
“So the alternative for us is not no deal, the alternative for us is to make sure we have an independence referendum on the premise of an independent Scotland joining the European Union, keeping our access to the single market and the customs union and giving us that continuation of free movement of people and access to the Erasmus scheme and so on.
“So it’s about the alternative there is for Scotland, not no deal.”
Ian Blackford grilled by host on calls for independence referendum
But the radio host hit back: “But as you know, the alternative is you vote for the Prime Minister’s deal. If the House of Commons by majority votes against this deal, we will leave the EU without a deal.
“And that’s precisely what you and your fellow SNP MPs are about to do walking through the lobbies and do.”
It comes as MPs in Britain were preparing to vote on the deal in a special sitting of Parliament called for Wednesday.
It is likely to pass through both Houses, with Labour ordering its MPs to vote for the “thin” treaty because the only other option is a chaotic departure without a trade deal.
The European Parliament must also formally ratify the deal in the new year – although this will now apply retrospectively.
The agreement came as ministers stepped up calls for businesses and individuals to prepare for the new procedures that will apply in just four days’ time, regardless of the agreement.
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Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove warned time was “very short” as he acknowledged there were likely to be some “bumpy moments” as the new arrangements came into effect.
He said firms needed to be ready for new customs, while he urged UK citizens to take out comprehensive travel insurance to cover health costs and to check their mobile roaming policies to avoid charges if they were travelling to the EU.
“I think lots of businesses are ready, particularly the larger businesses, some smaller businesses will still want to do a bit more in order to be ready,” he told BBC Breakfast.
“We are there to help them and the advice that we’re giving, and also the money that we’ve invested in making sure that people can be ready for customs procedures, is designed to help.
“I’m sure there will be bumpy moments but we are there in order to try to do everything we can to smooth the path.”
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