I visited the Brexit reading rooms. Wasn't allowed to take my phone in so here's my take from outside the building.
It's still not clear whether the Secretary of State has abandoned the idea of getting consent of the Scottish Parliament but it's very clear he's out of the loop.
I’m not standing for depute leader of the SNP.
There are a range of personal factors that have influenced my decision. We are all of us very good at talking about a work life balance but often do little about it. I’m content where that balance is for me at the moment and for now I’ve no desire to alter it. There’s plenty I need to be getting on with on the front bench at Westminster, as a local MP and as part of the wider campaign for independence.
We are about to start our final year as a full European Union member, but the hapless UK Government still appears split from top to bottom over what life will look like afterwards.
Let’s start with the simplest and most fundamental question – what sort of trading deal should we have with the 27 countries of the EU after we leave? In a common sense world, it wouldn’t be controversial to argue that we should seek the closest arrangement possible with EU. These are, after all, the countries nearest to the UK and those with whom we do the majority of our trade.
The Scottish Government is already giving EU citizens the right to vote in Scottish Parliament elections. At today's Cabinet Office questions I asked the UK Government to extend the right to vote to all those legally living here.
You may be aware that last week the Scottish Government implemented an effective ban on electronic shock collars for dogs. These are barbaric devices that have no place in the training of dogs. I congratulate Ben Macpherson MSP on his campaign to get this action. However, the Scottish Government have one hand tied behind their back as powers over the sale of such devices is reserved to Westminster.So Deidre Brock and I are taking this campaign to the Tories in Westminster and you can help. We have a paper public petition on the go (I can then present it in the House) – you can sign it in my office and those of Deidre and Ben. You can also pick up copies of it to get your friends, family, colleagues etc to add their names. An online petition has also been launched and you can sign this here. Read more about it in my Evening News column.
Ban Shock Collars
I voted against spending billions on doing up Westminster but didn't get a chance to speak in the debate. Here’s some of what I would have said.
It was back to business with Brexit this month for the last two days of debate on the Bill before it heads to the Lords. Before Christmas I secured a commitment from David Mundell that we would have Government amendments on Clause 11 - the power grab of devolved powers going to Westminster – at Report stage (watch it here). But, in another broken promise, none were forthcoming. The Bill passed and is now with the unelected Lords. Read my latest blog here.
I held my street surgery in Newcraighall this month. Loads of folk got in contact so it was a busy afternoon. I got some great feedback on the important issues for the local area and was able to offer help with some specific issues. These are a regular occurrence - I'm doing one a month in a different area. It might take a while to get round all 40,000 doors but do look out for a letter coming through your door.
Given the numerous, and pretty serious, incidents in Edinburgh East on Bonfire Night I was very happy to take part in the Westminster Hall debate on an e-petition relating to fireworks. Here's a few clips from the speech.Fireworks Debate - 29th Jan 18
Here's my speech at the Council of Europe urgent debate on Palestine. Trump's recent actions have made America's role as a mediator untenable. It now falls to Europe to step up to find a solution for Israel and Palestine.
This week Parliament was back debating the EU Withdrawal Bill as it entered the Report stage in the House of Commons. Before I update you on those debates, I want to let you know about a report the Scottish Government have published.
On Monday the Scottish Government released its second paper on the potential implications of Brexit on Scotland and the options available to us. Scotland’s Place in Europe: People, Jobs and Investment outlines that leaving the EU could result in a hit to GDP of up to 8.5%, equivalent to a loss of £2,300 per year for each person in Scotland. Scotland needs continued migration from the EU (each additional EU citizen working in Scotland currently contributes an average of £10,400 in tax revenue) and, ultimately, Scotland and the UK need to stay inside the Single Market and Customs Union to protect Scotland’s interests. Do take a read if you can find the time – it’s a document that brings some much needed evidence and facts to the debate.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA) gives aid to more than 5 million refugees in the Palestinian territories and neighbouring countries. Trump has just announced that the US plans to withdraw funding.
I used my International Development question today to ask about the UK Government position.
I spoke in favour of the SNP Amendment 59, under which the UK would confirm continued membership of the single market and customs union before ministers could use secondary legislation to implement any withdrawal agreement agreed with the EU under Article 50.
The amendment was defeated by 322 to 99.
The Scottish Affairs Committee took evidence on the closure of RBS branches across the country. Here's a few of the questions I asked.Scottish Affairs Committee - 17th Jan 18Posted by Tommy Sheppard MP on Wednesday, 17 January 2018
I sought assurances from the UK Government that they will do all they can to protect jobs at Carillion. It was, after all, the government who continued to give these contracts out, not the employees.
New ministerial team in the Cabinet Office but still not able to answer a question. Given she disagrees with my analysis does that mean the Government has changed its mind and we'll no longer be getting a plan to increase voter registration?Cabinet Office Questions - 10th Jan 18Posted by Tommy Sheppard MP on Wednesday, 10 January 2018
Westminster convention dictates that the the third party (that's us these days) has to sum up in all debates - even the ones that aren't that relevant to us.
I was asked to sum up for the SNP in the Westminster Hall debate on Yorkshire devolution. It's quite different from our desire for complete independence. That said I have a lot of sympathy for parts of England who want more local control over how they are governed.
It’s time for my last EU Withdrawal Bill of the year! The Bill passed through its first committee stage last night and now heads to report stage in January. After eight days of debate and only one non-government amendment being voted through, there was no last minute controversy (well, apart from Damian Green being sacked but that’s another story).
We had six votes last night on a variety of amendments and new clauses. Initially we had thought there might be another defeat for the Government but, in order to avoid it, they brought forward a compromised amendment on the date and definition of exit day. The government amendment basically fixes the UK’s EU exit date as 11pm on 29 March 2019, unless ministers decide to change it. It passed by 319-294.
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.
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?
Open Letter to Jeremy Corbyn MP
Leader of the Labour Party