Tommy Sheppard

MP for Edinburgh East

Brexit Update - 11th Dec 18

EU

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.

The government had two choices for how to go about delaying the vote. The speaker, John Bercow, was very clear that the democratic and fair thing to do would be to move to adjourn the debate and let the House vote on whether or not to agree to stop the debate and vote. The debate had, after all, already lasted for three days with over 100 MPs taking part. I was one of them in the wee hours of last Wednesday morning (you can watch it here). The other option was for the Government to decline to move the day’s business. No vote needed. So that’s what they did. It may be discourteous but it’s legitimate and I guess that’s the benefit of being in charge. Even without a majority. You can do this sort of stuff.

Not that it stopped a real feeling of anger in the chamber and beyond. The reality is that Theresa May isn’t going to be able to renegotiate this deal. And by not telling parliament when she was planning to bring back the deal for a vote I can only guess she’s playing for time. The closer we get to the 29th March, the more pressure she can put on her backbenchers – and Labour rebels – to back her deal in fear of there being no deal at all.

It’s clear this is a government and a Prime Minister crashing out of control. The logical thing would be for the PM to step aside and let someone else form a government. The SNP has been clear that we’ll back Corbyn if he puts forward a no-confidence motion. Both Plaid, the Greens and Lib Dems have said the same. No-one has confidence in the current government. So far Corbyn hasn’t stepped up to the mark. And just to be clear, whilst the SNP itself could table a motion of no confidence the Speaker has made it very clear that this is unlikely to even be discussed unless supported by the official opposition.

And, in case you missed it, it’s now legally clear that we don’t have to continue down this Brexit path. Thanks to six Scottish parliamentarians, including my colleague Joanna Cherry QC MP, the European Court of Justice confirmed yesterday morning that the UK can revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU on our current terms of membership.

As I said last week, when you’re in a hole you should stop digging. Now is the time to stop.

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Monday, 21 January 2019

Tommy's Blog Articles

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 ...
Tommy Sheppard
11 October 2018
Tommy's Blog
Media
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...