European Union (Future Relationship) Bill 30/12/2020

Last week Parliament was recalled to debate the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill. During the session, I raised several areas where the trade deal poses a direct threat to the EU citizenship rights currently enjoyed by Scots.

The deal, regrettably, removes the automatic right for Scots to live, work, study, and love in 31 other countries. It also forces 4 million UK and EU citizens, such as my husband, to apply for the right to stay in their own homes.

Despite promises of a ‘sea of opportunity’ with Brexit, the vast increase in quota has not yet been delivered. Even after six years, half of the 87 fish stocks listed in the deal produce no gain or less than a 1% shift of allowable catch from EU to UK fishermen. Only 13 stocks will produce more than a 5% shift.

Indeed, the removal of the ability of EU and UK fishermen to swap quota means that landings of many species, such as cod and haddock, will actually be less than now. 

The people of Scotland voted to remain in the European Union and I was proud to vote alongside my SNP colleagues in Westminster against this trade deal. Scots have the democratic right to choose their own path and take their own future into their own hands.

You can watch my full contribution here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gImkL_q14Vw

Dr Philippa Whitford MP

Despite the Government doing their best to limit parliamentary scrutiny, we now see how the promises of the 2016 leave campaign, led by the Prime Minister, compare with reality.

Despite all the promises to the fishing industry, the vast increase in quota has not been delivered. Even after six years, half of the 87 fish stocks listed in the deal produce no gain or less than a 1% shift of allowable catch from EU to UK fishermen. Only 13 stocks will produce more than a 5% shift. Indeed, the removal of the ability of EU and UK fishermen to swap quota means that landings of many species, such as cod and haddock, will actually be less than now.

The Prime Minister’s claim of no non-tariff barriers is patently laughable. The costs of customs bureaucracy and seafood devaluing in lorry queues means that many fishermen will be worse off after Brexit. In exchange for this poor deal, we will pay a high price as individuals: the loss of EU citizenship; the loss of the right to study, work, love and live anywhere in 31 other countries—a right that we have all enjoyed but that we are taking away from the next generation; the loss of recognition for professional qualifications; and over 4 million EU and UK citizens, such as my husband, having to apply for the right to remain in their homes.

In this year of all years, we have cause to be grateful to those immigrants who have been working in our health and care services or as key workers, keeping us safe, maintaining food and energy supplies, and keeping our public services working. We value those who choose to make Scotland their home, whether they come from Europe or further afield, and who contribute their knowledge, skills and energy to our public services, our communities and, in my case, our families.

The people of Scotland are outward looking and reject the isolationism and small-minded pettiness that have led the Government even to remove the opportunities of Erasmus+ for young people. So much for the 2014 promises of “Vote no to stay in the EU” and “Scotland is an equal partner in a family of nations”.

Scots have the democratic right to choose their own path and to take their future into their own hands. I believe they will choose for Scotland to become a modern, independent European country in its own right.