Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Brexit Bill

Today is the final day of debate and voting on the Government's Brexit Bill. Coming in at a lamentable three pages, the Bill, along with the Government's woefully lacking White Paper on Brexit, gives absolutely no reassurances. The UK Government has had seven months to come up with a comprehensive plan, and rather than reassure the people, businesses, and industries of this country that Brexit will not have a negative impact, they have produced a 80 pages worth of vague wishes and pipe dreams. 

Businesses depending on import and export markets with the EU have no reassurance that they will not face prohibitively high tariffs. The financial sector still faces chaos. Workers do not have guarantees that their rights will be fully protected. We do not have reassurances that food safety standards will be upheld. The Tory UK Government is looking to abandon the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to life, the freedom from inhumane treatment, the right to a fair trial, respect for private and family life, freedom of religion, and protection from disability discrimination, amongst others, and instead bring in a “British Bill of Rights”. One only needs to look to our American cousins to see how a domestic Bill of Rights can fail on a mass scale to protect human rights. 

Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU. The UK Government has refused to engage comprehensively with the Scottish Government to ensure the protection of the interests and will of the Scottish people. The UK Government has created a constitutional crisis, and is willing to completely ignore the will of the Scottish people, and the future of the Scottish economy in order to pursue populist, xenophobic, and isolationist policy. 

I have received hundreds of emails and letters from my own constituents and around the UK regarding Brexit. These have ranged from those thanking me for standing up and voting against the Brexit Bill in its first reading, to those accusing me of betraying the will of the British people as a whole. 

However, above all else, I am accountable not to Scotland, or the UK as a whole, but to my constituents in Coatbridge, Chryston, and Bellshill. My constituency voted strongly to remain in the EU. As such, as their representative in Parliament, I will be voting in accordance with their wishes tonight against the Brexit Bill.