Brexit: Ian Blackford grilled over SNP's stance on trade deal
On Christmas Eve, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the two sides had finally agreed terms on a post-Brexit trade deal beyond this year. But both sides face a race against time for the agreement to be ratified before the transition period deadline expires on New Year’s Eve. The deal will be voted on in both the UK and European parliaments this week, with British MPs recalled from their short break to sit in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
Britain voted by a slim margin of 52 percent to 48 percent in favour of leaving the EU during the historic Brexit referendum in June 2016 – despite Scot’s voting in favour of remaining in the continental bloc by a margin of 62 percent to 38 percent.
The SNP have long been vocal critics of Brexit, claiming the departure has been made against their will, suggesting that an independent Scotland could look to rejoin the EU over the coming years.
But now Nicola Sturgeon’s party, which has 47 seats in the Commons, has vowed to vote against the trade deal when it is brought before MPs in Westminster on Wednesday.
This has sparked a furious reaction from the Scottish Conservatives, with party leader Douglas Ross accusing the SNP of “once again showing their true colours”.
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He tweeted: “Scottish jobs, businesses and livelihoods rely on Scottish MP’s supporting the UK-EU trade deal.
“The SNP have always put political games before the people they serve and by voting against this deal they are once again showing their true colours.”
Mr Ross also posted a picture comparing two statements from Ms Sturgeon on December 14 and 27 when Scotland’s First Minister commented on the Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU.
Two weeks ago, the picture says Ms Sturgeon claimed “a deal, any deal, is better than no-deal,” but then says that on Sunday, the SNP confirmed it would be voting against the deal.
The Scottish conservative leader wrote: “No amount of spin from the Nats can hide that after months of warning against a No Deal outcome, that is exactly what the SNP will vote for on Wednesday. #NoDealNicola.”
Maurice Golden, the Scottish Conservatives’ Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Fair Work and Culture, tweeted the same picture, and accused the SNP of wanting “chaos to push independence”.
He wrote: “Two weeks ago, the SNP were saying no deal would be a disaster. Now they’re voting for a no deal Brexit.
“The fact is they just want chaos to push independence.”
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On Sunday, the SNP’s leader in Westminster Ian Blackford said his party would vote against the “unforgivable act of economic vandalism and gross stupidity” which he argued is a “very bad deal for Scotland”.
The SNP Government has claimed the Brexit deal could cost Scotland’s economy more than £9billion by 2030 compared to remaining in the EU, with the forecast 6.1 percent drop in GDP on par with losing the equivalent of £1,600 per person.
Mr Blackford raged: “Boris Johnson’s extreme Tory Brexit is an unforgivable act of economic vandalism and gross stupidity, which will cause lasting damage to the economy and leave the UK much worse off at the worst possible time – during a pandemic and economic recession.
“Scotland has been completely ignored by Westminster throughout the Brexit process and we are being forced to pay a devastating price.
“It is clear that the only way to protect Scotland’s interests, and regain the full benefits of EU membership, is to become an independent country.
“This is a very bad deal for Scotland, which will terminate our membership of the EU, rip us out of the world’s largest single market and customs union, end our freedom of movement rights, and impose mountains of red tape, added costs and barriers to trade for Scottish businesses.
“The blame lies squarely with the Tory Government.”
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