Tommy Sheppard

MP for Edinburgh East

Born in Coleraine, Northern Ireland in 1959, Tommy was educated at a local grammar school and, equipped with the requisite A levels, moved to Scotland to study medicine at Aberdeen University. He graduated with a degree in politics and sociology – the start of a lifelong interest in politics.

He returned to Scotland in 1993 and established the Stand Comedy Club in 1995, which he started as a hobby and built into a successful business. Tommy lives in Minto Street with his partner Kate and cocker spaniel Henry.

May News - Constituency

school-strike

Full kudos to the school students who were back out on strike this month, making their voices heard on Climate Change. I was pleased to be able to speak at their protest and offer my support. And it was great to hear so many passionate speeches from young activists.

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May News - Westminster

Drugs-inquiry

The election we didn't think would happen, did. And Edinburgh once again rejected Brexit decisively. 72% of those who voted chose to vote for a party that explicitly wants to remain in the EU - the SNP, Liberal Democrats, Greens or Change UK. And across Scotland the SNP returned the highest vote share of any party in the UK sending three MEPs to Brussels. I'll be doing all I can to ensure they get to stay there beyond October. On election day I had a column in the Edinburgh Evening News giving my take on what I thought might happen: I think it still stands.

Theresa May has, finally, resigned from office. But she hasn't gone yet. She'll leave as leader of the Conservative Party on the 7th June but remains as the Prime Minister until a new leader is selected - likely to be the end of July. In reality, I can't see how a new Prime Minister can change much in terms of the Brexit deal. The EU have been clear that they won't re-open negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement and Parliamentary arithmetic remains the same. As it stands we're due to leave the EU on 31st October with, or without a deal, and parliament must act to ensure we don't have a no deal Brexit by accident - or indeed by design given what some of the candidates are saying. 

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EU elections: Why the Brexit crisis is going to get worse

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By 10pm it’ll all be over. Several million people in Scotland, and tens of millions across the UK, will have voted in the election we thought would never happen.

I’ve no idea what the outcome will be. Whereas in mainland Europe voters are discussing climate change, tax, jobs and the future of our continent – here it boils down to whether you want to leave or remain. My only prediction is this: the result in Scotland will be markedly different from that in the rest of the UK. In terms of votes cast and members elected I predict Scotland will reject Brexit by an even bigger margin than it did in 2016.

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April News - Constituency

Body-bingo

The main benefit of Brexit taking more of a back seat was having a bit more time in the constituency during April. I hold regular advice surgeries and it's always great to see what's going on in the buildings while I'm there. I got to join in with a spot of body bingo after holding my surgery at ⁦the Restalrig Lochend⁩ hub - a welcome change of scene!

Regular subscribers to my newsletter will know that I've long campaigned for regulation of short term lets. The impact of companies such as Airbnb on the area are obvious to all - particularly on communities such as the Old Town. So I welcomed the First Minister's announcement at last weekend's SNP conference of a new public consultation to control the number of lets and ensure they make a contribution to the services they use. Take part in the consultation here

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April News - Westminster

Greta

It's strange to think that a month ago we were due to be leaving the European Union. With the leaving date pushed back to October 31st Parliament took a short Easter recess allowing us all time in our constituencies. And now it almost seems as if no-one is even talking about Brexit. 

Of course, I am going to talk about Brexit but before I do I want to talk about the other big topic that has hit the headlines - Climate Change. About time. Protesters like Extinction Rebellion and campaigners like Greta Thunberg have managed to do something hundreds of well-penned articles in newspapers have not: put the destruction of our planet front and centre. 

Protecting the environment and preventing climate change must be a priority - it is the number one issue facing humanity. I used my latest Edinburgh Evening News column to raise the issue and I’m proud that at the SNP party conference delegates unanimously passed my resolution on climate change. You can watch my speech here. And on Sunday the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, declared a Climate Emergency making Scotland the first country to do so. It’s vital now that we follow up these words with actions. 

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Extinction Rebellion has got my support, and here’s why

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Forty years ago in the sweltering summer of 1979 I got myself arrested at Torness. I was one of hundreds protesting against the construction of the nuclear power station. For my efforts I got to spend a night in the cells at Dunbar nick.

As the then Thatcher government was keen to point out - we didn't stop Torness. But as I'm keen to point out it was a tipping point. The time when nuclear energy lost its halo. The time when mainstream opinion realised it was actually a very expensive, quite dangerous, and of course non-renewable form of energy.

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March News - Westminster

TS-climate-demo-march-19

So it's April 1st. And we're still in the EU. A short reprieve but a very welcome one. It's difficult to give a concise report on what's happened this month but I'll do my best. On Friday we had another vote on the Prime Minister's Deal. It wasn't a "meaningful" one but one on the Withdrawal Agreement without the Political Declaration. Even with that compromise the result was a resounding defeat for the UK government.

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March News - Constituency

TS-climate-demo-march-19

Brexit was a key focus in the constituency this month (unsurprisingly).  I hosted a public meeting in Portobello - a huge turnout of folk packed into Bellfield and the message was clear - they wanted a People's vote and to stop Brexit. Huge thanks to Kristy Hughes and Kirsty Haigh for joining me and sharing their expertise.  And thanks to Tollcross Community Action Network who invited me along to speak at a discussion on the Future of Immigration after Brexit. Plenty of food for thought.

 

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Embrace the EU elections and make a stand on Brexit

EU

For many months the government has wielded a number of sticks to beat MPs into supporting its Withdrawal Agreement. It might be bad, they argue, but the alternative is worse. Remainers have been threatened with no deal. Leavers with no Brexit.

The latest big stick is the threat of having to participate in the European parliamentary elections. To avoid this the Government (and the EU’s) new deadline to get an agreement finalised is May 22nd, the day before the elections would take place.

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EU elections are chance to show UK wants to Remain

ballot-box

So we’re not leaving the European Union tomorrow after all. As the Brexiters cancel their street parties and put away the bunting the rest of us should think carefully about what to do with the reprieve.

This week started with parliament voting to take control of the process from government. A move without precedent. In truth, we were forced into it. What else can you do when faced with a government welded to a deal nobody wants and unwilling to change one dot or comma. Someone has to find a route to a majority. So now we’re starting to see what a majority of MPs can agree on. A process that should have started two and a half years ago.

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It's Brexit Groundhog Day at Westminster

EU

Four weeks ago I was worried about writing this column on the eve of the last major parliamentary debate on Brexit. Anything could have happened, rendering my speculation obsolete by the time you read it. I shouldn’t have fretted. Anything could have happened but nothing did.

Here I am again. Groundhog day. It’s Tuesday. There’s a big debate tomorrow.

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Brexit ‘chicken’ is a risky game for all of us

EU

Tuesday. Another day spent discussing Brexit. Another day of my life I’m not getting back.

We are no further forward. As the clock ticks down to exit it’s only fair to ask: What the hell is Theresa May playing at?

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Jeremy, It's Not Too Late To Change Your Mind And Offer A Real Alternative To Brexit

Stronger-for-Scotland

 Open Letter to Jeremy Corbyn MP

Leader of the Labour Party

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Let's regulate televised political debates

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You may remember that before Christmas there was talk of a UK wide TV debate on Brexit. In the end it didn’t happen because Labour and Tory party bosses couldn’t agree on a format. It’s probably just as well. At the time SNP demands to be included fell on deaf ears. It looked as if we might have the rather ridiculous charade of Teresa May and Jeremy Corbyn arguing over what kind of Brexit they wanted, with no-one at all putting the case against - a view which is now probably the majority one across the UK.

But the debacle over that debate has fuelled discussion about how political TV debates should be organised. This week parliament debated a proposal for an independent commission to put this whole business on a statutory footing. This is something I support and whilst we are in something of a Brexit hiatus waiting for the government to lose the vote on its withdrawal agreement, I thought I’d explain why.

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Brexit Update - 11th Dec 18

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Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more farcical, yesterday happened. Government ministers spent the weekend assuring us the vote planned for today would go ahead. Some were even claiming the PM might win it (it’s nearly Christmas after all, the season of miracles). Even late yesterday morning the Downing St press office were still telling us the vote was going ahead, while the PM was huddled with her aides and getting the Cabinet together for a phone conference. Within a few minutes it was clear she’d changed her mind. Again.

The vote is postponed. Until when, no-one knows. The PM came to the House of Commons and was frank – the only reason she’s delaying the vote is because she was going to lose. And lose badly. Once again this is all about her trying to hang on to power and sort out her own party rather than doing what’s best for the country.

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Brexit Update

EU

It’s been a little while since I've written a blog on Brexit. Things are now moving quite quickly so I thought it might be helpful for me to share a few of my thoughts on where we are.

The proposal put forward by Theresa May last week is not a good one and not one I can support. While the SNP Scottish government remain of the view that the best option for Scotland would be to remain in the European Union they have, time and again, put forward compromises that would respect the wishes of the Scottish people, and those of the rest of the United Kingdom.  These have been dismissed out of hand by the UK government.

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Austerity is alive and well after Hammond’s Budget

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The budget was last week. Did you notice? As squibs go, this one was pretty damp. We’ll be debating the detail in the finance bill next week but the real story is one of indifference and missed opportunity.

Since the 2008 crash, governments across the western world have seen their revenues unable to meet spending. In the US and most European countries the response was to use the power and funds of government to stimulate the economy. More public spending led to more jobs, more earnings and more taxes.  Not here. For eight long years the Tories have applied the opposite approach: use the reduced income as an excuse to slash public spending. This is austerity. And no matter what Hammond and May might like us to believe, it’s still here.

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Let's march towards a new vision for the nation

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We were supposed to set off from Johnston Terrace at one o’clock on last Saturday’s march for independence. In fact, it was a quarter past two by the time I turned into the Lawnmarket and began the walk down the Royal Mile to Holyrood.

That’s what happens when the biggest gathering in years descends upon the centre of Edinburgh and parades through narrow medieval streets. As a popular tweet quipped – we’re gonna need a bigger city.

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September News - Westminster

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It wasn't a surprise that we started the new parliamentary term with an Urgent Question on Brexit. However the answer I received to my question during this session was quite amazing. Raab said that the UK government's ability to consult the Scottish government will be constrained by Article 50 timetable which "is not of our choosing". Really? Who set the withdrawal date in law despite all the opposition parties arguing it would create inflexibility? Watch it here.

There's also a lot of discussion about a "People's Vote" on Europe. This month I used my Edinburgh Evening News column to set out my three tests for another referendum. You can read it here

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Case for more devolution in event of no-deal Brexit

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Going back to Westminster after the summer recess you can almost feel the impending doom in the air. It’s the calm before the storm. Everyone knows something bad is going to happen. Just not what exactly. Like waiting for the ghoul to reveal itself in a horror movie.

And as the dread unfolds the discussion about whether there should be another Brexit referendum will intensify.

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Tommy's Blog Articles

Tommy Sheppard
13 September 2019
Tommys Blog
Media
At two minutes past ten on Wednesday morning I was sitting in court number one just behind St Giles on the Royal Mile. A minute later Lord Carloway announced the unanimous decision by the appeal court judges that the British government had acted illegally in proroguing parliament.  There was an audible intake of breath as the decision hit.I was pleased to join my colleague Joanna Cherry QC, and ot...
Tommy Sheppard
09 September 2019
Tommys Blog
My work for you in Westminster
I've had a few emails recently from people who are asking about the SNP position regarding a general election.While I recorded some video updates last week, one of the limitations of social media is that it mitigates against context and nuance, so it is not always an adequate medium to communicate one's ideas. Also, while the instant nature of social media is useful it is limited in a situation li...
Tommy Sheppard
03 September 2019
Tommys Blog
Media
Under the new Prime Minister, the UK’s headlong dash towards the No Deal Brexit cliff edge has accelerated. Johnson makes demands he knows the European Union cannot accept. He demands the removal of the Backstop. The Backstop was designed to protect the Good Friday Agreement and thus peace in Northern Ireland and is, let’s not forget, an international treaty which is overwhelmingly supported by th...
Tommy Sheppard
26 August 2019
Tommys Blog
Media
And so the parliamentary summer recess draws to a close. This week Westminster opposition parties meet to plan their autumn attack. The week after, battle commences in the palace by the Thames. The parliament and the premier, each with a death wish on each other. The question: who will get the killer blow in first?What is clear is that a General Election is coming. Either the government will colla...
Tommy Sheppard
19 August 2019
Tommys Blog
Media
Dearie me, what’s going on in the People’s Party? First, shadow chancellor John McDonnell states that a Westminster Labour government wouldn’t block a request from the Scottish Parliament to hold an independence referendum. He says it twice just in case anyone thinks the first time was a mistake. And this week Jeremy Corbyn says it again to be sure.Now, in one sense, it’s an unremarkable statement...