Scottish Parliament votes to reject Theresa May's Brexit deal

The Scottish Parliament has voted to reject Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal amid claims it will leave parts of the country 'severely and permanently damaged'.

Wednesday, 5th December 2018, 5:14 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th December 2018, 5:15 pm

SNP, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens voted in favour of a motion calling for a “better alternative” to be found.

Brexit Secretary Mike Russell said the debate was an “historic opportunity” for the Scottish Parliament to come together with a unified voice in opposition to the EU withdrawal agreement and also the prospect of a no-deal.

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The Scottish Parliament has voted to reject the PM's Brexit deal.

While the vote is merely symbolic, it puts on record Holyrood’s opposition to the path set out by the Prime Minister.

Mr Russell said a reduction in EU migrants would damage the Scottish economy and make it “considerably harder” for legal and financial sector firms to deal with Europe.

He said: “In every area of Scotland there are businesses, organisations, communities and individuals who will suffer, directly suffer, over a long period of time if this deal is approved.

“This deal is not even the end of uncertainty. That is just another false promise.

“In fact the uncertainty flowing from the Prime Minister’s deal would last until the end of the transition period, which will not be in December 2020, no-one believes that, more likely December 2022 or even later.

“That’s at least four years of uncertainty to add to the two-and-a-half we’ve already had.”

He added: “Scotland needs and deserves better than the Prime Minister’s blindfold Brexit.

“For in truth this deal is about saving the Prime Minister, not about saving her country.”

But Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins said the Prime Minister’s deal was the only credible proposal to have been tabled since the EU referendum.

He said: “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 said the motion put forward by the other parties to oppose the withdrawal plans and a no-deal Brexit is “just noise” and rejecting the withdrawal agreement makes a no-deal Brexit more likely.

“We want a better alternative, says the motion, without any clue as to what that alternative would be and how could possibly be delivered,” he said.

He accused the SNP of trying to “weaponise” Brexit in the service of independence and said Labour and the Liberal Democrats have been “hoodwinked” into giving their support.

Labour’s Neil Findlay said the Prime Minister’s deal was “doomed” and called for a general election.

He said the overwhelming feeling was “uncertainty” and accused the Conservatives of bringing in “utter chaos” through the EU referendum.

He said: “For the sake of the country, our economy, our jobs, our children, our environment and the rights we enjoy the Prime Minister should admit the game is up and let democracy prevail in a general election.”

MSPs voted 92-29 in favour of the motion.