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 Sta...nd 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. More

Forget Brexit, let’s take back control of Scotland

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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.

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Cabinet Office question on the right to vote for EU citizens

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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.

 

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NI Questions

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Another UK Government Minister fails to answer the question they're asked. Today it was the turn of the Minister for Northern Ireland.

 

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Ban Electronic Shock Collars Campaign

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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. 

 

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Debate on Restoration and Renewal of Westminster

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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.

 

 
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January Newsletter - Westminster

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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. 

 

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January Newsletter - Constituency

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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.

 

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Westminster Hall Debate on Fireworks

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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

 

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Council of Europe urgent debate on Palestine

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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.

 

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EU Withdrawal Bill Update - 18th January

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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.

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International Development Question on UNWRA

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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.

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SNP Amendment 59 to the Exiting the EU Bill

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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.

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Scottish Affairs Select Committee - RBS Branch Closures

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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

 

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Urgent Statement on Carillion

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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. 

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Cabinet Office question on voter registration

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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
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Westminster Hall debate on Yorkshire Devolution

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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. 

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EU Withdrawal Bill Update - 21st December

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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.

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May faces Tory civil war if UK becomes ‘EU colony’

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Well, as years go, 2017 wasn’t the greatest. Globally, the world became a much more precarious place.

Donald Trump got his feet under the Oval Office desk and spent most of the year insulting people almost everywhere. Ramping up international tensions he rattled some pretty big sabres at North Korea. The year finished with Trump firmly taking sides in the Middle East conflict, much to chagrin of pretty much every diplomat in the rest of the world.

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EU Withdrawal Bill Update - 14th December

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Well we finally have it. The coalition were defeated in the House of Commons last night. Despite their attempts to cajole and bully their backbenchers, 11 Tories rebelled and Amendment 7 passed by just 4 votes.  And while Ministers are now jumping to say that it isn’t significant, that it’s only one vote and that Brexit is on track their faces told a very different story in the Chamber.

This is important. Amendment 7 means that parliament will need to have a meaningful vote on any Brexit deal. And the fact it passed shows that there are Conservative MPs who are willing to break party lines for the greater good. That’s a positive for the longer term  - if this Bill doesn’t come back at report stage with real and meaningful amendments on a number of the key issues, the rebels may well come back.

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EU Withdrawal Bill Update - 11th December

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It’s difficult to know where to start on last week’s Brexit developments. On Monday the Prime Minister was left scrabbling around after the DUP flexed their muscles and refused to agree the deal with the EU that would enable to them to move on to Phase 2 of negotiations.

By the end of the week the deal was done and a joint statement was issued from the UK Government and negotiators from the European Union (read it in full here).  I don’t understand why the Brexiteers seem so relaxed following this. I suspect they know something we don’t as on the face of it, you’d think they wouldn’t be keen.

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Tommy's Blog Articles

Tommy Sheppard
31 January 2019
Tommy's Blog

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?

Tommy Sheppard
11 December 2018
Tommy's Blog
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 h...
Tommy Sheppard
23 November 2018
Tommy's Blog
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...
Tommy Sheppard
08 November 2018
Tommy's Blog
Media
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 ...