News & Articles

Some published articles and blog posts from Tommy Sheppard MP

Boris Johnson set to be accountable to MPs for four of 82 days as PM

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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 other cross party MPS, in this legal action and in truth the unanimous decision was even better than we hoped for. The government will appeal but for now it stands charged of breaking the law.

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The SNP, Brexit and calls for a General Election

WM-Sept-19

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 like this where events are changing hourly and policy needs to be constantly refined and updated. So, I've taken time to set out my thinking here - and hope it will help in expressing my position.

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Stop No Deal

tommy-speaking

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 the people of both Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The EU has repeatedly ruled out changes to the Backstop so it is clear that Johnson is deliberately asking for the impossible while gearing up to blame No Deal on Merkel and Macron. In doing so, he is gambling with all our futures. The warnings of the economic and social effects of No Deal are clear.

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Embrace the EU elections and make a stand on Brexit

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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

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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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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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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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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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Claim of Right Debate

In the same way that a dog isn't only for Christmas, sovereignty isn't only for the 18th of September 2014. 

You can watch my full speech from this debate here

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EU Withdrawal Bill Update - 15th June 2018

EU

Buckle up folks – here comes a bumper blog as this week saw the return of the EU Withdrawal Bill after its time in the Lords. Or, more accurately, we were back voting on the EU Withdrawal Bill given there was precious little time for any actual debate. Over two days we were supposed to debate and vote on 20 different changes to the Bill that the Lords had put forward.

You’ll likely have seen and heard that the SNP group walked out of PMQs on Wednesday after the Prime Minister failed to answer questions from our leader Ian Blackford on the constitutional implications of the UK government ignoring the will of the Scottish Parliament.  To be clear about what happened, Ian Blackford moved that the House meet in private – one of the few archaic processes available to us to express our discontent by ensuring an immediate vote. He was perfectly entitled to do so. The Speaker decided not to allow a vote immediately but instead to have the vote after PMQs.

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A Vlog from outside the Brexit Rooms

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I visited the Brexit reading rooms. Wasn't allowed to take my phone in so here's my take from outside the building.

 

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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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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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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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EU Withdrawal Bill Debate

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Here's my speech from the debate on the #EUWithdrawalBill before we voted on crucial amendments to protect devolution.

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EU Withdrawal Bill Update - 23rd November

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So the EU Withdrawal Bill was back in the Commons for Day 3 of the committee stage this week and, as promised, I’m writing to update you on what happened.

Before I talk about the Bill itself, you might be interested in the events of Monday’s Ways and Means debate. Ways and Means is a traditional term for taxes or other charges levied on the public in order to fund Government spending. And while not directly linked to the EU Withdrawal Bill, Brexit transcends everything. In an alternative attempt to get the UK to consider staying in the single market with access to the customs union the Labour MP for Edinburgh South, Ian Murray, had tabled an amendment that was selected for a vote.

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Question on the cost of Brexit

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I've been trying to get information on this for months. But still no clear answer as to how many civil servants are working on Brexit and how much it will cost.

Cabinet Office Questions - 22nd Nov 17Posted by Tommy Sheppard MP on Wednesday, 22 November 2017
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EU Withdrawal Bill Update - 16th November

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I know how difficult it can be to not only keep up with what is happening as Brexit proceeds, but to understand the antiquated political systems that make up the UK parliament. So I will be sharing regular updates as the Bill makes its way through parliament. 

As you may be aware, the Bill entered its committee stage this week in the House of Commons. That means MPs debate specific aspects of the Bill and can consider amendments that have been brought forward. While hundreds of amendments were tabled, only a few were selected for a vote.

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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
My work for you in Westminster
Tommys Blog
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
Media
Tommys Blog
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...