Debates between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford

There have been 29 exchanges between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford

1 Wed 20th May 2020 Oral Answers to Questions
Scotland Office
5 interactions (609 words)
2 Wed 13th May 2020 Engagements
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (697 words)
3 Mon 11th May 2020 Covid-19: Strategy
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (619 words)
4 Wed 6th May 2020 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (742 words)
5 Wed 25th March 2020 Engagements
Cabinet Office
11 interactions (1,243 words)
6 Wed 18th March 2020 Oral Answers to Questions
Northern Ireland Office
5 interactions (631 words)
7 Wed 11th March 2020 Engagements
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (512 words)
8 Wed 11th March 2020 Budget Resolutions
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (3,092 words)
9 Wed 11th March 2020 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (512 words)
10 Wed 4th March 2020 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (571 words)
11 Wed 26th February 2020 Engagements
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (496 words)
12 Wed 12th February 2020 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (319 words)
13 Tue 11th February 2020 Transport Infrastructure
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (502 words)
14 Wed 5th February 2020 Engagements
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (397 words)
15 Wed 29th January 2020 Engagements
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (529 words)
16 Wed 22nd January 2020 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (582 words)
17 Wed 15th January 2020 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (506 words)
18 Wed 8th January 2020 Engagements
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (420 words)
19 Wed 30th October 2019 Engagements
Cabinet Office
7 interactions (814 words)
20 Wed 23rd October 2019 Engagements
Cabinet Office
4 interactions (629 words)
21 Tue 22nd October 2019 European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (334 words)
22 Sat 19th October 2019 Prime Minister’s Statement
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (860 words)
23 Thu 3rd October 2019 Brexit Negotiations
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (784 words)
24 Wed 25th September 2019 Prime Minister's Update
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (703 words)
25 Wed 4th September 2019 Engagements
Cabinet Office
4 interactions (534 words)
26 Tue 3rd September 2019 G7 Summit
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (967 words)
27 Thu 25th July 2019 Priorities for Government
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (960 words)
28 Tue 4th December 2018 European Union (Withdrawal) Act
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (1,158 words)
29 Tue 5th September 2017 Korean Peninsula
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
2 interactions (492 words)

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Wednesday 20th May 2020

(1 week, 5 days ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Scotland Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard

Indeed, I can, and I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Hyndburn and Haslingden will indeed continue to receive funding for their town centres—indeed, the high streets taskforce will be increasing that support—in addition to 118 km of safe new green cycleways thanks to the Lancashire local growth fund, for which I know she has also campaigned.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) [V] - Hansard

Our thoughts this morning are with the communities in India and Bangladesh dealing with the landfall of super cyclone Amphan. I am sure the Government will be monitoring the situation and will seek to give all necessary support.

Every week, members of this Government applaud our truly heroic NHS and care staff, who have been on the frontline of this pandemic, regardless of whether they were born here or elsewhere. Indeed, the Prime Minister has thanked the nurses who cared for him, who were from New Zealand and from Portugal. The UK has the highest number of deaths in Europe, and without their sacrifice, we would be facing something much worse. I know the Leader of the Opposition has already asked the Prime Minister about overseas careworkers, but on Monday the Prime Minister ordered his MPs to vote for an immigration Bill that defines many in the NHS and care sector as low-skilled workers. Given their sacrifice, is the Prime Minister not embarrassed that this is how his Government choose to treat NHS and care workers?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

This is a Government who value immensely the work of everybody in our national health service and our careworkers across the whole community. I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that the reason for having an immigration Bill of the kind that we are is not to keep out people who can help in our NHS; on the contrary, we want an immigration system that works for the people of this country and works for our NHS. I think what the people of this country want to see is an immigration system where we control it, we understand it and we are able to direct it according to the needs of our NHS and the needs of our economy, and that is what we are putting in place.

I know it is rejected by the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer), and indeed by the right hon. Gentleman himself, but it is the right way forward.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard

The harsh reality is that the Prime Minister does not even pay NHS and care staff the real living wage and wants to block many of them from working here at all. We need an immigration system that is fit for purpose. The Home Secretary and the Prime Minister seem hell-bent on implementing a purely ideological immigration policy with no basis in fairness or economics. The Government have talked about giving back to our NHS and care staff. It is time for him to deliver. People migrating to these nations and choosing to work in our NHS and care sector must have the Government’s cruel NHS surcharge removed immediately. Will he make that pledge today, or will he clap on Thursday, hoping that no one really notices that he is giving with one hand and raking it in with the other?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

First, the right hon. Gentleman mentions the living wage. This is the party and Government who instituted the living wage and have just increased it by a massive amount. Secondly, this is the party that is putting £34 billion into the NHS—the biggest investment in modern times—and believe me we will continue with that investment. He talks about discriminatory policies at the border. The logic of his policy is to have a border at Berwick.

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Wednesday 13th May 2020

(2 weeks, 5 days ago)

Commons Chamber
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Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard

I thank my right hon. Friend for what he does to champion the environment and the cause of reducing CO2 emissions. Alas, we have had to postpone the COP26 summit that was to have taken place, as he knows, in Glasgow at the end of this year. But our enthusiasm and determination to get to net zero by 2050 remains undiminished.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) [V] - Hansard

May I begin by thanking all our nurses for their efforts in keeping us safe and looking after us, and applaud yesterday’s International Nurses Day?

Last week, the Prime Minister, in response to my questioning, noted the ability of the Governments of all four nations to come together and to deliver a very clear message for our people. Events on Sunday could not have been more disastrous from this Government. The Prime Minister has made confusion costly, devolved Administrations have been shut out, there is widespread confusion among the public and the Government have shown a total disregard for workers’ safety. Many, sadly, have seen the images of London buses being packed this morning. Will the Prime Minister accept that the clear message in Scotland is to stay home to protect the NHS and to save lives?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

Indeed, the message throughout the country is, of course, that you should stay at home if you can, unless the specific circumstances that we have outlined apply. But I must say that I do not accept the leader of the SNP’s characterisation of the co-operation that we have had across all four nations. In my experience, it has been intense and it has been has been going on for days and days and weeks and weeks, and actually if we look at the totality of the measures that we are taking as a country, there is much more that unites us than divides us. We will go forward together.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard

The reality is that the Prime Minister has failed to deliver a clear message, and he did not address the point about London buses being packed this morning. The Prime Minister is threatening progress made against the spread of this virus by the general public who are following the advice to stay at home. The Prime Minister is putting workers’ safety at risk by calling on those who cannot work at home to go to their jobs without any guidance on health and safety.

Only last Monday, the Health Secretary launched the test and trace app trial. On Sunday, the Prime Minister appeared to leapfrog any success with that by announcing easing of restrictions. Before any lockdown easing and to avoid undermining the progress made so far, the Prime Minister must make sure that there are sufficient levels of testing available, and the ability to test, trace and isolate is fully in operation. Why is the Prime Minister throwing weeks of progress against the virus into jeopardy, undermining the work of our outstanding NHS?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
13 May 2020, midnight

The right hon. Gentleman raises a point about London buses that is quite right, and I do not want to see crowding on mass-transit public transport in our capital or anywhere else. We are working actively with Transport for London to ensure that we have more capacity and discourage people from going to work during the peak, and that the operators, particularly TfL, lay on more tube trains in particular when they are necessary throughout the day. A huge amount of work is being done. We also want to see proper marshalling at stations to prevent crowded trains.

On the right hon. Gentleman’s point about test, track and trace, that is going to be a huge operation for the entire country. He should pay tribute to the work of all those hundreds of thousands of people who are now responsible for massively escalating our test, track and tracing operation. We now test more than virtually any other country in Europe. The rate of acceleration—the rate of increase—has been very sharp indeed, and we will go up to 200,000 by the end of the month. The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that the success of the programme is absolutely vital if we are to be able to move on to the second and third steps of our road map.

Covid-19: Strategy
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Monday 11th May 2020

(3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard

I thank my hon. Friend very much, and I assure him that the spirit of Romford will certainly be actuating our approach. There is a huge difference between the way this Government have handled this crisis and what happened in 2008—a huge difference. The most important thing, of course, is that we decided to look after the livelihoods and job prospects of families across the country. We looked after people who are on low pay and modest incomes, in retail and hospitality, with our coronavirus job protection and furloughing scheme. We will ensure that this economy comes back strongly, and we will be uniting and levelling up across the entirety of the country.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) [V] - Hansard
1 Jan 2000, midnight

It is obvious that the past 24 hours have spread confusion, yet today the public desperately need to be given clarity. Lives are at risk, so political judgments and verdicts on this weekend’s chaos will have to wait for another day. I respect the right of the Prime Minister to make judgments on the basis of his scientific advice. I hope he is right in the determinations he is making, and that, crucially, if evidence suggests an increase in the R-rate, he will be prepared to act accordingly.

We need to be guided by one clear understanding, which is that mixed messaging risks lives. In order urgently to re-establish clarity, I wish to ask the Prime Minister five specific questions, and I genuinely urge him to provide five clear answers.

For clarity, will the Prime Minister confirm that he accepts and respects that in the devolved nations, the advice clearly remains, “Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives”, and that it is the legal right of all the First Ministers to set their approach for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

In terms of the new slogan, last night the Prime Minister said:

“I have consulted across the political spectrum, across all four nations of the UK.”

Can the Prime Minister therefore explain why his Government did not share his new slogan with the devolved Administrations, leaving them to learn of the change in the Sunday newspapers? Further to that, will he commit not to deploy this new slogan in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland unless the devolved Governments decide otherwise?

On quarantining following travel, when will these quarantine measures come into force, and can the Prime Minister confirm whether his own Transport Secretary has told airline industry leaders that if there are too many obstacles in implementing it, it may not even happen?

Finally, for ultimate clarity, will the Prime Minister reaffirm for the public and businesses in Scotland that the advice that they should follow will come directly from the Scottish Government, and is not the advice that he gave in last night’s broadcast?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

Quickly, the answers are: one—yes; two—I think “stay alert” is a valid piece of advice, and indeed, so is “stay at home if you can”. My answer to No. 4 is no, and I say to the right hon. Gentleman quite simply that I do think that the UK has been able, thanks to the co-operation I have had not just with hon. Members opposite, but across all four nations, to make a huge amount of progress together. I think most people actually understand where we are in fighting this disease, and most people looking at the practical reality of the advice that we are giving today can see that overall, there is far, far more that unites the UK than divides it, though I know that there is always the political temptation to accentuate the divisions. That is not going to be the approach of this Government, and I do not believe it should be the approach that commends itself to parties across this House.

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Wednesday 6th May 2020

(3 weeks, 5 days ago)

Commons Chamber
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Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right that a crucial part of our success in getting transport to run safely will now be running a bigger and more expansive tube service so that people can observe social distancing. We will certainly be working with the Mayor to try to achieve that, although there must be—we will come to this on Sunday and next week—mitigations to help people who, for reasons of social distancing, cannot use mass transit. There will be a huge amount of planning going into helping people to get to work other than by mass transit. I hope that my right hon. Friend, as a former Transport Minister, will agree that this should be a new golden age for cycling.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) [V] - Hansard
6 May 2020, 12:05 a.m.

I welcome the Prime Minister back to Parliament, and congratulate him and Carrie on the birth of their son Wilfred; I wish Wilfred every health and happiness.

The UK’s confirmed death toll now stands at close to 30,000. It is officially the highest in Europe and the second highest in the entire world. Indeed, there are some estimates putting the figure even higher. In my own community of Skye, we have faced our own heartbreaking and devastating outbreak of covid-19 over the past few days. I do agree with the Prime Minister when he says that the worst thing that we could do now would be to ease up the lockdown too soon and allow a second peak of this deadly virus. To protect our citizens, the lockdown must remain in place for as long as it is needed. Given that many people might want to travel to, for example, the tourist areas during the better weather, will the Prime Minister join me in reminding everyone that non-essential travel is not permitted? Does he agree with me and the First Minister of Scotland that our approach should be led only by the best medical and scientific advice, not the politics of posturing?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

Yes indeed. Actually, I think that the last few weeks have shown the ability of the Governments of all four nations to come together and to deliver very clear messages for our people, and I think the collaboration has been extremely helpful. I can say to the leader of the SNP that we will certainly be working with the Government in Scotland, as we will be working with the Opposition, with unions and with business, to make sure that we get the unlockdown plan completely right. What he says is absolute common sense: it would be an economic disaster for this country if we were to pursue a relaxation of these measures now in such a way as to trigger a second spike. On that point I am in complete agreement with him.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard

I am grateful for the Prime Minister’s answer and I commit myself and my party, and my Government colleagues in Edinburgh, to working with him on that shared agenda. However, some of his own Ministers are not following his advice. Instead of working with the Scottish Government, the Secretary of State for Scotland has been making political arguments about the constitution, rather than scientific ones about saving lives. And he is not the only one. This is not the time for opportunistic politicking; this is the time when we all must work together, to protect our NHS and to save lives.

We anticipate that the Prime Minister will be making a televised address on Sunday concerning the easing of the lockdown. This cannot be undertaken without the full input and co-operation of all our devolved Governments. We must end this period of mixed messaging from the UK Government. Will the Prime Minister commit today that the substance of his address will be fully agreed with the devolved nations, so that all our Governments continue with this vital work of saving lives?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

Yes. By the way, I forgot to thank the right hon. Gentleman and other colleagues for their kind words about Wilfred. I want to thank him for that; I forgot to say that, and I will be marked down if I don’t. So thank you. Listen, I share the right hon. Gentleman’s aims. We will do our level best to make sure that the outlines of this attract the widest possible consensus; I think that they can and ought to. I am delighted by his call for a prohibition on “political arguments about the constitution” and I think that would be warmly welcomed across this country.

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Wednesday 25th March 2020

(2 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
25 Mar 2020, 12:03 a.m.

I thank my hon. Friend very much for raising that matter. He is entirely right. As the right hon. Gentleman, the Leader of the Opposition, has just said, that is uppermost in people’s minds. We have produced a quite incredible package to support the businesses and the workforce of this country. We do need to ensure that we protect the self-employed as well, and he will be hearing more about that in the next couple of days.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Hansard
24 Mar 2020, 12:02 a.m.

I must say, in response to the questions from the Leader of the Opposition, that we all need to do what we can to bring all our people home, and that needs to happen now.

The Prime Minister said that the UK is putting its arms around all our workers. I hope that that will become the case because, as of today, it is not. This morning, the Resolution Foundation estimated that one in three people in self-employment—a total of 1.7 million workers—are now at risk of losing their income. In Scotland, that means that 320,000 self-employed people are deeply concerned about their jobs and the families they support. Last Friday, the Prime Minister and his Chancellor promised the self-employed that help was coming. Only yesterday, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury told them,

“we have not forgotten you—help is coming.”—[Official Report, 24 March 2020; Vol. 674, c. 207.]

These are the same promises that have been made for weeks now, yet they, and we, are still waiting. Can the Prime Minister explain why a package of support for the self-employed was not put in place before we announced the lockdown?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

As the right hon. Gentleman will understand, we have done a huge amount already to strengthen the safety net for everybody in this country—not just those who are currently in employment—with a package so that they get 80% of their earnings up to £2,500 per month. This country has never done anything on that scale before. We have increased universal credit by £1,000 a year, as he knows. We have deferred income tax self-assessments for the self-employed until July, and are deferring VAT until the next quarter, as he knows. There is also access to Government-financed loans. But there are particular complexities of the self-employed that do need to be addressed; they are not all in the same position. All I can say is that we are working as fast as we possibly can to get the appropriate package of support for everybody in this country. That is what we are going to do, and we will get through this together.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard
24 Mar 2020, 12:02 a.m.

The Prime Minister knows that we want to work with him on this, but there is frustration because we have gone into lockdown and workers are without income. This is an emergency. The truth is that the health and economic costs of this virus are deepening by the day. People deserve strong leadership, financial support and straight answers. As we stand here, these people are losing their incomes. Telling them to wait another day simply is not good enough.

In Norway and Denmark, wage support schemes have already been extended to cover the incomes of the self-employed. In Germany, there is a €50 billion programme to ensure that the self-employed do not go bankrupt. In Ireland, the self-employed are eligible for a special pandemic payment of €350 a week. The Scottish Government have written to the Chancellor, asking him to expand the job retention scheme that he announced last week to include the self-employed. Will the Prime Minister confirm that, when the Chancellor eventually does announce measures, there will be parity and equality of support between the already announced job retention scheme and the new scheme for the self-employed? They must not be left behind, Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman is making a very important point. I totally share his desire to get parity of support. I remind him that we have extended mortgage holidays, and are giving all sorts of help and interest-free loans to everybody across the whole country. There are particular difficulties with those who are not on PAYE schemes, as I think the whole House understands. We are bringing forward a package to ensure that everybody gets the support they need. That is the way to get this country through this. But, if I may say so, the better we tackle the epidemic now—the more vigorously we are able to suppress the disease now—the faster we will come through it, and that means—[Interruption.] Yes, it certainly means testing, but it also means staying at home, protecting the NHS and thereby saving lives.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard

I understand very well the job that the current Mayor is doing. My view is that we should be able to run a better tube system at the moment and get more tubes on the line. I do not wish in any way to cast aspersions on what is going on at Transport for London because it is an outstanding organisation. We will give the Mayor every support we can to help him through what seems to me to be his current logistical difficulties.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard

As of Monday, more than 3,300 inquiries have been made in Scotland about NHS staff seeking to return to work to help us defeat coronavirus. Those people and all those already working tirelessly in our NHS are our heroes. Every last one of them, from consultants to cleaners, carers to nurses, drivers to maintenance workers, GPs to paramedics, are performing vital work to save the lives of others. When the crisis is over, we in this House will need to find some way to honour those amazing heroes, but there is one way that the public can honour and support our NHS staff now: by staying at home. Staying at home and adhering to social distancing will save lives, protect our health and social care services and begin to flatten the curve. We can avoid unnecessary deaths, but only if we all act together. Does the Prime Minister agree that we owe it to everyone in our NHS and those willing to return for non-essential workers to stay at home?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the splendid way in which he expressed himself. That message deserves to be heard loud and clear across the UK.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard

I thank the Prime Minister for what he has just said.

Many Members will have had constituents contacting them in recent days about evictions. Will the Prime Minister join me in praising Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, Aileen Campbell, who has announced the Scottish Government’s intention to use the emergency powers granted by the Coronavirus Bill to protect people from losing their homes? The Scottish Government’s plans to impose a six-month ban on evictions from private and social rented accommodation are as welcome as they are necessary. Will the Prime Minister also join me in sending a message from this House that in such times, we need a truly loving and compassionate society? No one should face the threat of eviction at a time of national emergency. Will the Prime Minister send out that message today?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

Yes, indeed. I want to repeat what we are doing—the sense and the thrust of it. It is not just putting £1 billion more into supporting the rented sector through local housing allowance, but stopping no-fault evictions. The difference is between three months and six months, but I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that we will keep that protection under review.

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Wednesday 18th March 2020

(2 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Northern Ireland Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
18 Mar 2020, 12:16 p.m.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on what he is doing for Bassetlaw Hospital. I remember going to talk to the wonderful doctors and staff at Bassetlaw. They explained in great detail their fascinating plan for improving service for their patients. I am absolutely determined to support him and them in their ambitions. That is why we have already put £15 million into expanding emergency care capacity in Bassetlaw. My right hon. Friend the Health Secretary is working intimately with Bassetlaw to take forward the whole project.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Hansard
18 Mar 2020, 12:17 p.m.

I associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister on the killing of Lance Corporal Brodie Gillon.

This is an unprecedented emergency and it requires an unprecedented response. I welcome the fact that parties across the House, and Governments across these islands, have worked together as we attempt to protect all our peoples. It is the right approach and it is the least the public expect and deserve from us.

Yesterday the Chancellor announced a £330 billion financial package for business. Today the UK Government need to announce a financial package for people. Members from six parties across the House have expressed support for a temporary universal basic income to help everyone, especially freelancers, renters and the self-employed. Using the current tax system, will the Prime Minister stand up and give a commitment today to provide people with the security of a universal basic income?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
18 Mar 2020, 12:18 p.m.

First, I want to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the spirit in which he has spoken. Indeed, there is a huge amount of collaboration going on across all four nations of this country, as you can imagine, Mr Speaker. We are in lockstep.

What I would say on the right hon. Gentleman’s appeal for basic income is, do not underestimate the value to people of the measures that we have already announced that will support business, keep jobs going and make sure those businesses continue in existence. That must be the first step. As I have said repeatedly now to the right hon. Gentleman, the Leader of the Opposition, it is important that throughout the crisis we take steps to support workers. The right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford) is quite right and the suggestion that he makes is, of course, one of many such suggestions.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard

I thank the Prime Minister for his answer. There is a willingness from all of us to work together as we go through this crisis, but thousands of people are already losing their jobs. It is happening today. Millions will face the same threat. They need reassurance and support, and they need it today. They need an income guarantee.

We must not repeat history. People are worried about their bills and about keeping a roof over their head. In the last financial crisis, the banks were bailed out, but ordinary people were not. The Prime Minister has it in his power to protect people’s incomes and provide them with peace of mind. At this time, an emergency universal income scheme would do just that. Will he at least commit to meeting all of us who support that proposal to discuss how we can protect the incomes of all our peoples?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
18 Mar 2020, 12:22 p.m.

Yes, indeed. I can make that commitment and I said as much in my earlier answer to the right hon. Gentleman. It is very important that, as we go forward, we try to enlist a consensus in this House about how to support people throughout the crisis. I agree profoundly with what he said about not repeating history. It is very important that, as we ask the public to do the right thing for themselves and for everybody else, no one, whatever their income, should be penalised for doing the right thing, and we will make sure that that is the case.

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Wednesday 11th March 2020

(2 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 12:10 p.m.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We will not compromise on animal welfare. We will not compromise on food standards and hygiene. I am only too happy to meet him and his fellow farmers to discuss the opportunities ahead.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 12:10 p.m.

As the numbers infected by coronavirus grow, the level of public concern naturally grows with it. Last week, the Prime Minister gave me a firm reassurance that no one would be financially penalised for following health advice, yet still millions of self-employed workers have been left in deep uncertainty as to what financial help they will be given if they are forced to stop working. In this House, we are in a privileged position. We will not be financially worse off. Millions of workers are not in that privileged position. They may be forced to rely on social security for an extended period because of this virus. For the record, can the Prime Minister tell me what the statutory sick rate of Ireland is compared to his UK Government?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 12:10 p.m.

It is not my duty to comment on the pay rates of other countries. What I can tell the right hon. Gentleman, which he knows very well, is that the Government have already advanced statutory sick pay from day 4 to day 1. We will make sure that those on universal credit and other benefits get the help they need from day 1. If the right hon. Gentleman can contain his impatience for just a little bit, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will be telling him more about what we will be doing to protect everyone in society to make sure that nobody is penalised for doing the right thing.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 11:30 a.m.

Let me try to help the Prime Minister and perhaps inform him of the detail. In Ireland, in response to the coronavirus, the Government have just raised their statutory sick rate to the equivalent of £266 per week. That covers those employed and those in self-employment. In Germany and Austria, it is £287. In Sweden it is £230. In the Netherlands, it is £201. In Spain, it is £121. In the UK, Prime Minister, it is a meagre £94.25 per week.

Prime Minister, up to 80% of people across the United Kingdom could face infection in the weeks and months ahead. Many of them will be forced to rely on statutory sick pay. If the Prime Minister is truly committed to levelling up, a good place to start must be statutory sick pay. Will he take the opportunity to stand up today and commit to raising the UK payment to the average EU level?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 12:14 p.m.

As I think most Members of the House understand, the UK is distinct from many other countries around the world, certainly in the EU, because we have a universal free health system, free at the point of delivery. We have an extensive benefits system, free for people across this country, and indeed, our health system is very well managed and very well prepared for this epidemic. I congratulate everybody in the NHS responsible on making the preparations that they have.

Budget Resolutions
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Wednesday 11th March 2020

(2 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 2:15 p.m.

I will not.

We believe that that is the only adequate and prudent response to this unprecedented health crisis. As part of the Budget package, we also need to recognise the deep worry that people are experiencing about the impact of its consequences on their incomes, employment, rights and benefits. Just as our health response must be led by the best scientific advice, our economic response must be guided by the need for an appropriate fiscal stimulus that ensures that the economy is not tipped into recession. The employed and the self-employed need to be aided through the crisis. I acknowledge many of the measures taken today by the Chancellor to do just that, but more urgent and more targeted action is also required.

In particular, urgent measures are needed to help the tourism and hospitality industry, above and beyond what has been offered today. Industry leaders are already warning of the consequences of the coronavirus, with a raft of booking cancellations and a significant drop in numbers. The SNP is advocating a package of measures, including a temporary drop in the VAT rate to 5% to help businesses to reduce their costs—[Interruption.] I can hear the Prime Minister saying, “We’ve cut interest rates,” but—[Interruption.] Business rates, rather, but the problem, Prime Minister, is that these businesses are facing a crisis not of their own making.

Many of the businesses in my part of the world, in the highlands of Scotland, come through a fallow period over the winter. It is not just an issue of their seeing a reduction in business; in some cases, they are going to be desperately short of cash coming in through the door. Let us not forget that many of these businesses have relied on an EU workforce over the last few years. In anticipation of what is happening with the migration proposals from the Government and of the difficulty of recruiting labour, they have had to staff up. They have additional costs, but their revenues are about to fall through the floor. That is why I have written to all the major UK banks to ask them to support businesses and households through this period to make sure that working capital is extended to all businesses, and that no business—no good business in the hospitality and tourism sector—should be pushed to the wall as a consequence of what is happening.

Chancellor, a temporary drop in VAT would allow business to weather the storm as people follow public health advice and tourist numbers drop, but let me say, on the basis of the scientific advice that we have today, that Scotland is well and truly open for business, and I encourage people to come and experience the breadth and depth of our tourism offering. VAT was reduced in Ireland and it helped to boost both employment and tourist numbers. I urge the Chancellor, in the strongest possible terms, to consider a similar policy to help our tourism and hospitality sectors to come through this crisis.

Let me turn to the other measures in the Budget. The Chancellor has just delivered his first Budget speech—I welcome him to his position—and I give him credit for one thing: he did really well in fluently reading out Dominic Cummings’ handwriting. It is a strange irony that those who were most obsessed with taking back control from Brussels are now at the heart of the unelected, centralised elite who have grabbed control, not just in Downing Street but in the Treasury. Today they have produced a half-baked Budget thrown together by a bunch of Vote Leave campaigners drowning in the responsibility of government. I am talking about a group of ideologically driven campaigners—let us be charitable—so distrustful of Europe and the benefits it might have brought, economically, socially and culturally, and so caught up in their own meaningless slogans that they are blinded by the damaging reality they have caused. People are not fooled. The slogan “take back control” does not work when you have been in power for the last decade. We have not forgotten that the Tories have been in control and that we are all the worse for it. If the Chancellor really thinks that this Budget levels up after a decade of austerity, he must have bought himself a wonky spirit level. After delivering a decade of cruel cuts, the Tories are now offering a new decade of political and economic isolation outside the European Union.

The Budget is a warning of what may be ahead of us and a reminder of Scotland’s need to choose a different future. It has never been more stark: Scotland’s economic interests are not served by being part of this UK union. Rather than the instability and limitations imposed by the UK, independence now offers the Scottish people the chance to build a better, more prosperous and safer future. The 2016 Brexit referendum was the moment when our political futures met a point of divergence, and we are now on the cusp of the moment of decision for Scotland’s people. The Conservatives may have delayed our democratic right, but they cannot indefinitely block the voices and votes of the Scottish people. Scotland’s future will be ours to choose, and we will very shortly make that choice. I am more confident than ever that the Scottish people will choose to be an independent, equal and European nation.

As I have said, this is a Budget produced by a group of people who are expert in fabricating slogans but amateurs in delivering competent government. The Tories have a new slogan about levelling up funding and living standards. Let us judge them on their record. A reasonable place to start is basic income. The Office for National Statistics recently confirmed that the median income for the poorest 20% fell by 4.3% per year between 2017 and 2019. Institute for Fiscal Studies analysis shows that since 2010 the poorest 10% of households have lost an average of 11% of their income. That is £1,200 per year. For those with children the average loss was up to 20%, or £4,000. That is the cost of Tory Government to people in Scotland and the United Kingdom. That is the true Tory record: falling wages and growing hardship. While the gap between rich and poor grows, last month the ONS revealed that income inequality was as much as 2.4% higher on average than official figures had suggested over the decade since the financial crisis in 2008, and this Budget does not help by failing to implement policies that deal with growing inequality. The Tories still refuse to raise their pretend living wage to the real living wage and refuse to end the age discrimination that penalises our young people.

Another reasonable place to judge their levelling up record is overall public spending. Let us not be fooled by some of the rhetoric in the statement today. Since 2010, aside from health spending, the Tories have cut per person spending on public services by a whopping 21%. This Budget comes nowhere near either closing or reversing that devastating legacy. By any standard, by any measure, by any objective acknowledgement of fact, this Tory Government have failed to level up for anyone anywhere. They cannot be allowed to hide from these facts, just as they cannot be allowed to hide from their legacy.

Let us be clear: the poor becoming poorer was a Tory political choice. The Resolution Foundation has said that the fall in income for the poorest

“has been driven by policy choices, with gains from higher employment more than wiped out by benefit cuts.”

Why did the Conservatives take these political choices? As ever, they were serving their own interests and the interests of those they serve. For them, it is a simple and cynical calculation. A Government who rob Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. As far as the Tories are concerned, everyone else can go whistle.

I suppose we should not be surprised. This is a Budget advocated by a Prime Minister who once eulogised:

“some measure of inequality is essential for the spirit of envy and…is, like greed, a valuable spur to economic activity.”

Greed—a valuable spur to economic opportunity! That is the reality of the vision of the Prime Minister. That does not sound like a man determined to level up. The honeyed words and new slogans in the Budget will not change the long and bitter experience of Tory economics. People in Scotland know that they cannot believe their words, they cannot believe their promises, and they cannot believe that they will ever change—not ever.

If this really was the great investment Budget the Chancellor heralds, he should have started by paying up the moneys the Tories have been holding back from Scotland for years. I am grateful to a Scottish Parliament Information Centre—[Interruption.] I hear the Prime Minister talking about grievance. This is not about grievance; this is about the facts of what a Conservative Government have done for the people of Scotland. The Scottish Parliament Information Centre has confirmed that Scotland would be owed about £5.8 billion if the proper Barnett consequentials were applied to the DUP Brexit bung and the additional moneys since. That is the reality. That is added, of course, to the £175 million still owed to the Scottish Police Authority and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service—money that was stolen from our vital public services. [Interruption.] I hear the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Andrew Bowie) saying it was against all the advice. It was the vindictiveness of his Government that took these funds from the Scottish public services. That is the reality. Let us be crystal clear: the UK Government have chosen to rob Scotland’s public services of that money, and the silence from the Scottish Conservatives—their failure to stand up for our police and firemen—is audible to all.

The Budget also turns its back on the oil and gas sector in the north-east of Scotland. These industries face months of instability and uncertainty in the aftermath of the latest collapse of an OPEC deal to stabilise prices. The oil price has plunged, yet there was not a mention of it from the Chancellor. The impact of the global oil price slump will reverberate around the world, including hitting Scotland’s vital oil and gas sector. The oil and gas sector has generated £334 billion of net tax revenues for the UK Government since 1970. Having used the sector as a cash cow, the Treasury must support it in its time of need. The UK Government must deliver crucial support for the sector as part of a just transition to net zero emissions. Scotland still bears the scars from rapid de-industrialisation under previous Conservative Governments. That must never happen again, and it must not happen to north-east Scotland.

The failure of the Government’s investment strategy— the Chancellor admitted it today, and we see it in the productivity record—has unfortunately failed to diminish their arrogance in trying to dictate the investment needs of the devolved Administrations. We are told that the Treasury is considering an intra-UK connectivity study, which sounds suspiciously like another Tory power grab on the devolved Parliaments. Chancellor, how can people be expected to have faith in a Prime Minister who cannot build a bridge between London and London, and a Scottish Secretary who thinks a bridge is a euphemism for a tunnel? Having ripped up the Sewel convention, the Tories are on a mission to level down devolution. Chancellor, your Government are neither competent enough nor trusted enough to invest in infrastructure in Scotland. Go back and think again, and allow the Scottish Parliament to use extra capital resources to provide for Scotland’s infrastructure needs. We will deliver for the people of Scotland.

The Budget fails to attempt to fix, or even to acknowledge, the underlying fundamental problem of the economy. For the past decade, the Conservatives have presided over a crisis in productivity. Only last year, about 6,000 companies revealed that uncertainty over leaving the European Union had lowered capital spending by about 11% on average. That is what is really going on in the economy. According to the Bank of England, that has cut overall UK productivity by between 2% and 5%—a reduction in productivity created by the Conservative Government in power in Westminster. The overall perception of the UK’s productivity is not helped by the Prime Minister’s productivity levels; he downs tools and hides away whenever the going gets tough.

Static productivity is a direct consequence of choices made during the financial crisis. There was a massive quantitative easing splurge in the wake of the crash, but there has been no real return on that investment for ordinary workers. It did do one thing, though; a Bank of England analysis of the impact of quantitative easing showed that between 2006 to 2014, the 10% least wealthy households saw a marginal increase in wealth of around £3,000. The wealthiest 10% saw a £350,000 increase. In other words, printing money for the financial services industry ended up helping only those working in the financial services industry. Improved productivity, and capital investment for wider society, never got a look-in. I challenge the Chancellor: will he commit to a review of the impact of the bonus culture in financial services and its effect on general economic activity?

As I have said, the decade of Tory austerity and the inequality it inflicted has hit the poorest hardest. The brutal cuts have targeted children and the most disadvantaged. The benefits freeze, universal credit sanctions, disability assessments, the cruel two-child limit, the rape clause—the list of failed and punishing policies goes on and on. It is a legacy the Tories should be ashamed of, and should have the basic decency to apologise for.

If the Chancellor is serious about looking after those who have been left behind, he can begin to prove it by committing to four things. Will he increase the monthly allowance for universal credit and end the benefit cap; increase benefits above inflation and restore their value after the four-year freeze; scrap once and for all the two-child cap on tax credits and the rape clause; and follow the lead of the Scottish Government and bring in a child payment scheme similar to theirs, which has lifted 30,000 of our children out of poverty? If the Chancellor cannot commit to those four basic measures, which would reduce poverty and bring compassion into the social security system, his words and promises of levelling up will be shown to be hollow.

The devastating Tory legacy on social security has especially hit pensioners, who still receive the lowest state pension in the developed world, according to the OECD. They have also been denied their full rights. I am proud that the Scottish National party, with others, has stood shoulder to shoulder with 1950s-born women since the beginning of their campaign, and we stand with them still. They deserve justice, and it is disgraceful that their plight continues to be ignored in yet another Budget.

Another Tory attack on pensioners, and another broken promise, is of course the removal of free TV licences for the over-75s. This will hit 240,000 households in Scotland and 3 million across the United Kingdom. Chancellor, this is your Government’s responsibility, not the BBC’s. It is time to pay up. Stop punishing pensioners, and keep the free TV licence for all those over 75.

By far the biggest budgetary and economic decision that confronts these islands—[Interruption.] We are talking about some of the poorest in our society, and women who have been denied their pensions. I say to the Prime Minister that when I knocked on doors in the election campaign, I found that a great number of elderly people were alarmed by the loss of their TV licence. That is what we get from the Conservatives, but they sit laughing and scoffing. I find it remarkable. It is okay for them; the rest of the population can go hang.

By far the biggest budgetary and economic issue that confronts these islands remains our relationship with the European Union. We hope that the negotiations on our future relationship can be successfully concluded, but all the signs from this Tory Government are that instead of co-operation and close relationships, they are heading for divergence and deregulation. The UK Government’s negotiation mandate all but confirmed that choice. The consequences for workers’ rights, environmental protection, the shape of our economy and the nature of our society will be profound, and—this will be of little interest to this Tory Government—the impact will be felt most by those who already have the least: the vulnerable and the poor. Scotland will end up paying a heavy price for a future we did not back.

Our Government’s modelling shows that even if the UK Government secure a basic free trade agreement, Scottish GDP would be 6.1%, or £9 billion, lower by 2030 than if we had retained full EU membership. We heard from the Chancellor about the impact of a slowing global economy, and have heard about the impact that coronavirus may have on us, yet the Government are prepared to crash our economy and put Scottish workers on the dole. Not in our name! The harsh reality is that that lost GDP—let us put it in cash terms—amounts to £1,610 per person. A no-deal Brexit—heaven help us—will raise that figure to £12.7 billion, equivalent to £2,300 per person. This Tory Government will sacrifice our economic health. Why? For an ideology––the narrow ideology of the Brexit fanboys, led by Dominic Cummings, now running the Treasury. As the trade negotiations unfold in the coming months, the numbers are worth reflecting on, because it is worth reflecting on the fact that the Westminster Government are actively choosing to make Scotland’s people poorer. It is not an accident; it is by design.

On top of all that, the National Audit Office—[Interruption.] I find it remarkable to watch the reaction of the Prime Minister. I challenge the Prime Minister to tell me that the figures that I have just given on the impact of a free trade deal or a no-deal Brexit are wrong. The Prime Minister knows, just as I know—just as we know—that the Scottish economy is going to be harmed by what he wants to do in these trade negotiations.

The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 2:40 p.m.

The only threat the Scottish people face is the SNP!

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard

I remind the Prime Minister that we have just had an election. He went into that election with the slogan “Say no to indyref2”; how did that work out? You lost more than half your MPs, Prime Minister. [Interruption.]

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Wednesday 11th March 2020

(2 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 12:10 p.m.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We will not compromise on animal welfare. We will not compromise on food standards and hygiene. I am only too happy to meet him and his fellow farmers to discuss the opportunities ahead.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 12:10 p.m.

As the numbers infected by coronavirus grow, the level of public concern naturally grows with it. Last week, the Prime Minister gave me a firm reassurance that no one would be financially penalised for following health advice, yet still millions of self-employed workers have been left in deep uncertainty as to what financial help they will be given if they are forced to stop working. In this House, we are in a privileged position. We will not be financially worse off. Millions of workers are not in that privileged position. They may be forced to rely on social security for an extended period because of this virus. For the record, can the Prime Minister tell me what the statutory sick rate of Ireland is compared to his UK Government?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 12:10 p.m.

It is not my duty to comment on the pay rates of other countries. What I can tell the right hon. Gentleman, which he knows very well, is that the Government have already advanced statutory sick pay from day 4 to day 1. We will make sure that those on universal credit and other benefits get the help they need from day 1. If the right hon. Gentleman can contain his impatience for just a little bit, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will be telling him more about what we will be doing to protect everyone in society to make sure that nobody is penalised for doing the right thing.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 11:30 a.m.

Let me try to help the Prime Minister and perhaps inform him of the detail. In Ireland, in response to the coronavirus, the Government have just raised their statutory sick rate to the equivalent of £266 per week. That covers those employed and those in self-employment. In Germany and Austria, it is £287. In Sweden it is £230. In the Netherlands, it is £201. In Spain, it is £121. In the UK, Prime Minister, it is a meagre £94.25 per week.

Prime Minister, up to 80% of people across the United Kingdom could face infection in the weeks and months ahead. Many of them will be forced to rely on statutory sick pay. If the Prime Minister is truly committed to levelling up, a good place to start must be statutory sick pay. Will he take the opportunity to stand up today and commit to raising the UK payment to the average EU level?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 12:14 p.m.

As I think most Members of the House understand, the UK is distinct from many other countries around the world, certainly in the EU, because we have a universal free health system, free at the point of delivery. We have an extensive benefits system, free for people across this country, and indeed, our health system is very well managed and very well prepared for this epidemic. I congratulate everybody in the NHS responsible on making the preparations that they have.

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Wednesday 4th March 2020

(2 months, 4 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard

I will indeed. Today I will chair the first ever Cabinet Committee on Climate Change, in recognition of this Government’s revolutionary commitments to cut to net zero by 2050—one of the many ways in which the Government are leading Europe and the world in tackling climate change.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Hansard
4 Mar 2020, 12:14 p.m.

Like the Prime Minister, I note the two-year anniversary of the terrible attack in Salisbury. It is important, on these matters and on other crises that we face, such as coronavirus, that, where appropriate, we do stand together.

Coronavirus is causing deep and genuine concern across society. We know that up to 80% of the population are at risk of infection. We must all provide clear, calm and practical leadership in the days, weeks and months ahead. In the past few days, Scotland’s First Minister, the Scottish Government and the Westminster Government have been working closely together to put plans in place to protect all our people. Yesterday, the Governor of the Bank of England suggested that a financial bridge may be available to assist markets through any volatility. If there is a financial bridge for markets, can the Prime Minister tell us: will there be a financial bridge for all workers and, indeed, those who rely on benefits, who should not risk the threat of sanction if they cannot make an appointment?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
4 Mar 2020, 12:15 p.m.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the excellent co-operation that Scotland and, indeed, all the devolved Administrations have given in preparing the battle plan. Yes, really to recapitulate my answer to the Leader of the Opposition, we will take every step that we can to ensure that businesses are protected, that the economy remains strong and that no one, whether employed or self-employed—whatever the status of their employment—is penalised for doing the right thing.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard
4 Mar 2020, 12:16 p.m.

I thank the Prime Minister for that answer, and I commit my party and our Government in Scotland to work constructively together.

Of course, people are worried about their health, but there are millions of workers who are worried about the consequences for their incomes, their job securities and their families, so I do ask that the Prime Minister give specific guarantees. Certainly, we will work together in the SNP in pushing for emergency legislation. Will he give the clarification that all workers will be fully protected from the first day of sickness, that those payments should be up to the level of the real living wage and that there will be emergency legislation to guarantee that staff who are asked to self-isolate, and their businesses, are fully supported? That is the leadership that is required. I ask if the Prime Minister will commit himself to working constructively with us all to that end.

The Prime Minister - Hansard

Again, I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the spirit in which he asks the question. He will have seen from my earlier answer that what we are indeed doing is advancing the day, on a temporary basis, on which people are eligible for statutory sick pay from the fourth day to the first day. I think that is the right thing. Again, I repeat that we will support business and we will make sure that we keep the economy strong. No one should be penalised for doing the right thing. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will be happy to engage in further conversations with the right hon. Gentleman about the detail of how we propose to do that.

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Wednesday 26th February 2020

(3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
26 Feb 2020, 12:12 p.m.

I take that issue very seriously, and I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for raising it. We are giving local authorities more powers to reject intentional unauthorised development, and we will consulting on the details of those proposals in a forthcoming White Paper. I hope he will contribute to those consultations.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Hansard
26 Feb 2020, 12:13 p.m.

This week, we learned that 40% of small businesses in Scotland employ more than one EU national. Immigration is crucial for Scotland’s economy, so it is no wonder that the Scottish Government’s proposals for a Scottish visa system have been universally welcomed by businesses and charities alike—even the Scottish Tories think it is a good idea. The Prime Minister rejected these proposals within a few short hours. Does he now admit that that was a mistake?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

It was not only I who rejected the proposals, but, of course, the Migration Advisory Committee. That is because we are bringing forward a very sensible proposal, which the people of this country have long desired, whereby we take back control of our immigration system with a points-based system. The right hon. Gentleman has important concerns to raise, and we will ensure that everywhere in this country—all businesses, all agricultural sectors and all the fishing communities of this country—will be able to access the labour and the workforce that is needed, under our points-based system. But what would be the height of insanity would be to proceed with the Scottish National party’s solution of a border at Berwick between England and Scotland.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard
26 Feb 2020, 12:14 p.m.

Once again, the Prime Minister shows that he is utterly delusional. Let us look at the reality: Scottish Care has said that the Prime Minister’s damaging immigration plans “shut the door” on enabling people to be cared for in their own home. The general secretary of the GMB union says that the plans

“could genuinely tip some businesses over the edge.”

Scotland’s National Farmers Union says that its evidence has been “disregarded” by the UK Government. The Scottish Tourism Alliance says that the plans will have a devastating impact on Scotland’s workforce. Senior figures in the UK Government have said that what the Scottish Parliament decides “doesn’t matter one jot”; if the Prime Minister thinks that the Scottish Parliament does not matter, do Scottish businesses matter?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
26 Feb 2020, 12:15 p.m.

Of course Scottish businesses matter, and the way to do well by them would not be to tax them with the highest tax rates in the UK; it would be to run a sound economy in Scotland and to have an educational system that does not leave Scottish children lagging behind through no fault of their own. This Government will get on and deliver a working immigration system for the whole of this country. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman shouts at me from a sedentary position, but he would be better off getting on with delivering for the people of Scotland, rather than continuing with his ceaseless and vain quest to break up the United Kingdom, because he will not succeed.

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Wednesday 12th February 2020

(3 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard

I thank my hon. Friend for raising that point. As we deliver gigabit broadband to every part of this country, including to the people of Sedgefield, we will also ensure that the UK is the safest place to be online.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Hansard
12 Feb 2020, 12:10 p.m.

In northern Syria, displaced women and their children are literally freezing to death. There are reports of babies dying as a result of the extreme conditions, and 45,000 people remain stranded with nowhere to go. The Syrian war is considered to have caused the biggest wave of displacement since the second world war. Can the Prime Minister tell the House what responsibility his Government have taken for this humanitarian crisis?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
12 Feb 2020, 12:10 p.m.

As I think the whole House will know, and as I have said several times in the House, the UK leads the world in supporting humanitarian relief efforts in Syria. This country has committed £3.2 billion to that cause.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard
12 Feb 2020, 12:10 p.m.

My question was about the children who are literally freezing to death. That was not an answer from the Prime Minister.

In 2017, as Foreign Secretary, this Prime Minister enacted a policy of accepting the Syrian dictator Assad’s rule over the country. Assad has delivered death and destruction to his people—a man who has gassed his own civilians. The humanitarian situation has reached crisis point, and there are now fears of all-out war. Is the message that the Prime Minister wants to send from the House today that the UK Government are washing their hands of the Syrian people, and that he is content for Assad’s regime to continue enacting these atrocities?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

I really think the right hon. Gentleman needs to consult his memory better. He would find that this country and this Government have persistently called for the end of the Assad regime, and indeed have led the world in denouncing the cruelty of the regime towards Assad’s own people. That has continuously been the policy of the British Government.

Transport Infrastructure
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Tuesday 11th February 2020

(3 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
11 Feb 2020, 12:56 p.m.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on the work he does for his community. I can assure him that we will ensure that when money is allocated for buses or cycling projects, it is spent on buses and cycling projects.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Hansard
11 Feb 2020, 12:59 p.m.

I thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of the statement. Let me be mindful of one reality. No number of prime ministerial vanity projects will ever heal the economic damage and the damage to connectivity that this Tory Brexit will inflict.

In terms of the HS2 announcement, enhanced rail infrastructure is obviously welcome, despite the indecision and waste that have been synonymous with the project. We will wait and see whether the Prime Minister is capable of getting this decision through his own party and past his own chief adviser. However, if the Prime Minister is truly committed to rail connectivity across these islands, will he engage with the Scottish Government to improve rail links from Scotland to the major cities of the north of England, such as Manchester, Newcastle and beyond? Will he also explore collaboration on the extension of the borders rail line, and what resources will be provided?

The Prime Minister may talk about his priorities of one nation; we know what nation he is talking about, and it definitely does not include the Scottish nation. Can I further ask, given his previous opposition to the Barnett formula and his party’s repeated failure to implement it fully, whether he can confirm whether all the spending he is determined to engage in will be subject to Barnett consequentials? Yes or no?

I welcome the fact that the UK Government are following the lead of the Scottish Government, who announced a £500 million bus infrastructure programme last September. Given the Prime Minister’s previous association with buses, however, can he reassure the House that false advertisements will be banned from the new bus fleet?

Finally, on the bridge, this is a Prime Minister who could not even build a bridge across the Thames, so he will therefore have to forgive those of us who are sceptical that he can build one over the 20-mile expanse of the North sea. Will the Prime Minister therefore provide the estimated £20 billion for this project to the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive so they can spend those moneys on their own priorities?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that we will of course collaborate with the Scottish Government on projects that will be of massive benefit for the whole of our United Kingdom. On his substantive question about Barnett consequentials, yes, of course there will be Barnett consequentials as far as the buses are concerned. As for his plan to build a bridge across the North sea, I think he needs to look at the geography of the United Kingdom again. The only obstacle standing in the way of HS2 is the crackpot SNP plans to put an economic border between England and Scotland, break up the United Kingdom and have a border at Berwick.

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Wednesday 5th February 2020

(3 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
5 Feb 2020, 12:12 p.m.

I agree passionately with my hon. Friend and congratulate him on all he has done to campaign for the redevelopment of Queen’s Medical Centre and Nottingham City Hospital, and of course I am proud that that money is now flowing through to those wonderful projects.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Hansard
5 Feb 2020, 12:13 p.m.

May I add my grateful thanks to the police and emergency services who had to react to the dreadful terrorist incident in Streatham?

In the first few days of Brexit Britain this Prime Minister has sacked an official, taken an isolationist approach to trade and banned the press from a Downing Street briefing; is he intentionally trying to impersonate Donald Trump?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
5 Feb 2020, 12:14 p.m.

I do not think anybody listening to my speech on Monday could have mistaken it for having anything but the most passionate internationalist, globalist, open, outward-looking approach. There is only one party in this country that has “nationalist” in its name; that’s them. They would break up the most successful political partnership of the last 300 years. The right hon. Gentleman and his party should concentrate on the day job and doing a better job for the people of Scotland.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard
5 Feb 2020, 12:14 p.m.

The Prime Minister does not even know the name of our party. The Prime Minister is on a dangerous trajectory. Is it any wonder that poll after poll shows majority support for Scottish independence? Our former US ambassador has made clear the threat of a Tory-Trump trade deal, warning that drug prices could soar. This would see increased pressure on our frontline services. It is clearer than ever that this Government and this Prime Minister are a threat to our NHS. This afternoon the SNP will present our NHS protection Bill to remove the very real threat of Tory privatisation. Will the Prime Minister commit right now to supporting our legislation?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

I think it is very odd that the right hon. Gentleman should denounce this country’s wish to have trade deals around the world when, as I understand it, their proposal is to try to re-join the European Union, and have a different currency, whose name they have yet to identify—perhaps they could elucidate that for the House—have a border at Berwick, and just after this country has taken back control of its outstanding marine wealth to hand it back to Brussels. That is their policy. I really think they should concentrate on doing a better job for the people of Scotland.

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Wednesday 29th January 2020

(4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
29 Jan 2020, 12:13 p.m.

I can confirm that the infrastructure revolution will penetrate all the way to Hastings and Rye, and across the whole country. There will be an additional £100 million for the redevelopment of the Conquest Hospital and Eastbourne District General Hospital, which I know will be of benefit to my hon. Friend’s constituents.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Hansard

Scotland is being dragged out of the European Union against our will. We hope that our European friends will leave a light on for Scotland.

During the EU referendum, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said that when it came to immigration, it would be for the people of Scotland to decide. On Monday, the Scottish Government published their plans for a Scottish visa, doing just what the right hon. Member promised Scotland should be able to do. Before the ink was even dry, those proposals were rejected without consideration. Given that the Prime Minister would never reject a proposal before reading it, can he tell the House on what points he disagrees with model 3? If it helps the Prime Minister, that model was outlined on page 20 of the proposal.

The Prime Minister - Hansard

I have every sympathy with the industries and businesses of Scotland that need to allow workers to come freely for the seasonal agricultural workers scheme; we have doubled that number, and that is very important. I thank the lobbying representations that I have received from Conservative colleagues in Scotland on that point. But the idea of having a Scottish-only visa, with a border at Berwick, a wall and inspection posts is absolutely fanciful and deranged. Whatever may be on page 20 of the right hon. Member’s document, I doubt that he explains who would pay for it.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard
29 Jan 2020, 12:14 p.m.

Nobody is suggesting such a thing, and that confirms that the Prime Minister does not have a clue.

Unlike the Prime Minister, experts have backed the Scottish Government’s proposals. The Scottish Trades Union Congress supports them. The Federation of Small Businesses supports them. The Scottish Council for Development and Industry supports them. Even the Migration Advisory Committee report commissioned by his Government has highlighted additional migration routes as a means of increasing population growth. The Scottish Government’s proposals will boost Scotland’s population, grow our economy, and protect public services. The UK Government’s policies threaten to plunge our working-age population into decline. We were told we would have the most powerful devolved Parliament in the world. We were told we would be an equal partner in the family of nations. Will the Prime Minister now read the Scottish Government’s proposal, listen to the evidence, and deliver a tailored migration policy for Scotland?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

We will have exactly such a thing. We will have a points-based system that will deliver the immigration that this whole country needs. The way to boost the population of Scotland is not to have a Scottish Government who tax the population to oblivion and who fail to deliver results in their schools. It may interest you to know, Mr Speaker, that the SNP has not had a debate in its Parliament on education for two years—and what is it debating today? Whether or not to fly the EU flag. It should get on with the day job.

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Wednesday 22nd January 2020

(4 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
22 Jan 2020, 12:12 p.m.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on the passion he brings to this debate and to this subject. He is entirely right that Ofsted’s most recent report shows that standards for the kids he and I care about are rising, with 86% of schools now rated good or outstanding. Of course there is more to do, which is why we are investing £40 billion more, but I am regretfully obliged to compare the performance of the schools to which he draws attention with the schools in Scotland where, through no fault of the pupils, performance in maths and science is at a record low.

Perhaps the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford), who is about to rise to his feet like a rocketing pheasant, will explain why his party is still so obsessed with breaking up our Union rather than delivering for the children and the pupils of Scotland.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Hansard

I associate myself with the remarks about Holocaust Memorial Day on Monday. We should always stand up against antisemitism and any form of racism.

Last night, the Lords voted to reinstate the Sewel convention that the devolved Governments must give consent to legislation that affects them. Devolution is under attack from this Tory Government. Powers are being grabbed back to Westminster, and there is no respect for the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, their Governments or their decisions. Yesterday, the Welsh Assembly became the third devolved Parliament to refuse consent for the Tory Brexit Bill. Why are the UK Government ignoring the principle of consent for our national Governments?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
22 Jan 2020, 12:13 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman knows full well that it is no part or implication of the Sewel convention to break up the oldest and most successful political union in the world.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard
22 Jan 2020, 12:15 p.m.

I am afraid that the Prime Minister ignores the Smith Commission, which recognises that it is up to the people of Scotland to determine their future. The Prime Minister just does not get it; this is an unprecedented attack. Scotland said no, and we meant it. Not only does he not have the legislative mandate for his Bill, but he does not—[Interruption.] As those on the Government Benches bray, it is clear that this place simply does not accept the reality that the Scottish Parliament speaks for the people of Scotland. The devolution settlement must be respected. Prime Minister, all three devolved Parliaments—and even the House of Lords—have called on you to end your Government’s attack on devolution. Will the Prime Minister stop the attack on our Parliaments?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

I agreed for a second with the right hon. Gentleman, because he said that Scotland said no and it meant it. He was right: the people of Scotland said no to independence in 2014 and they meant it. They meant it because they were told it was once in a lifetime, both by Alex Salmond and his protégé Nicola Sturgeon, and indeed by the right hon. Gentleman; they were told it was a once-in-a-generation event. The people of Scotland did this because they know full well that £9 billion net comes from the UK to Scotland and that 60% of Scotland’s trade is with the rest of the UK, and they can see the vast investments in manufacturing that come from the UK to Scotland, be it in Rosyth—£1.5 billion in building fantastic ships—or at Govan, where there are fantastic investments in manufacturing. We support manufacturing in Scotland; the Scottish National party Members support nothing except manufacturing grievances, and they know it.

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Wednesday 15th January 2020

(4 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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The Prime Minister - Hansard
15 Jan 2020, 12:11 p.m.

Apprenticeships play a vital part in the progression of the kids my right hon. Friend is talking about, and it is right that we should follow his advice—he has been on this for a while now—and reform the apprenticeship levy. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education will be updating the House in due course on our proposals.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Hansard
15 Jan 2020, 12:11 p.m.

I congratulate all the parties in Northern Ireland on reforming the Northern Ireland Executive.

The Prime Minister sent a letter to the First Minister of Scotland rejecting the democratic right of the people of Scotland to have a choice over their own future. This was not a surprise: the Prime Minister is a democracy denier. I say to the Prime Minister that, as his colleagues privately admit, this position is undemocratic, unacceptable and completely unsustainable. He has shown utter contempt for Scottish democracy, for Scotland’s Parliament and for Scotland’s people. Does he accept that, by ignoring Scotland, by imposing Brexit and by his pursuance of cruel and punishing policies, he is strengthening the case for Scottish independence?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
15 Jan 2020, 12:13 p.m.

It was not only the right hon. Gentleman, who leads the SNP in this House, but Alex Salmond and his protégée, Nicola Sturgeon, who said at the time of the referendum that it was a once-in-a-generation event. He said it, they said it. They were right then. Why have they changed their minds? He is the denier of democracy.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard
15 Jan 2020, 12:13 p.m.

The Conservative party signed up to the Smith commission, which recognised the right of the people of Scotland to determine their own future. That is the reality.

The Prime Minister lives in a fantasy land, but people across Scotland know the reality of his broken Brexit Britain. The truth is, the only union he is truly interested in is his union with Donald Trump—a partnership that threatens to sell off our precious national health service. Only yesterday, the Prime Minister called for the replacement of the Iran nuclear deal with, as he put it, a “Trump agreement”. The public deserve the truth. What backroom deals are being done with Donald Trump? Why is the Prime Minister putting our NHS at risk? Repeatedly during the election campaign, he promised that the NHS was not for sale. Will he now commit to supporting the SNP proposal for an NHS protection Bill? Without that commitment, what price will he make us pay for his toxic Trump deal?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
15 Jan 2020, 12:14 p.m.

Actually, the SNP welcomed our statement on the JCPOA yesterday; but, seriously, this is the problem with the SNP. Scotland under the SNP is the highest-taxed part of the UK. Its deficit is six times the UK average. Maths and science in schools in Scotland, unlike any other part of the United Kingdom, is going down in the PISA rankings. That is no fault of the pupils of Scotland, by the way. It is the fault of the Government of Scotland, under the SNP, who are not giving them the chances that they deserve because they are obsessed with breaking up the United Kingdom. Change the record!

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Wednesday 8th January 2020

(4 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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The Prime Minister - Hansard
8 Jan 2020, 12:12 p.m.

I thank my right hon. Friend for the passionate campaign that she wages. I can tell her that the current number is 2,190, which is patently unacceptable, but it is moving down. My right hon. Friend the Health Secretary tells me that the number is coming down rapidly. We have a pledge to reduce it by 50%, and I am sure that he will meet her very shortly.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Hansard
8 Jan 2020, 12:14 p.m.

May I welcome you to your place, Mr Speaker, and wish you, all Members and staff a good new year?

I associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister for our friends in Australia and on the tragedy of the Ukrainian airline crash. We want to see a resumption of democracy in Iraq. We want to see a return to peace, and of course we support all measures to make sure that diplomatic efforts can get us to a better place.

Prime Minister, who should determine the future of Scotland—the Prime Minister or the people who live in Scotland?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
8 Jan 2020, 12:13 p.m.

I think the answer is very clear—it is the people of Scotland who voted decisively only four or five years ago to stay members of the most successful political partnership in history by a decisive majority in a once-in-a-generation choice.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard

This is about democracy. In 2016, the people of Scotland voted to remain in the European Union, yet they are being dragged out of Europe against their will by this Prime Minister. In 2019, the people of Scotland elected a majority of SNP MPs to Westminster. The Scottish National party won the election on the premise of Scotland’s right to choose its own future, rejecting the Prime Minister who lost more than half his seats in Scotland. Today, the Scottish Parliament will decline legislative consent to the EU withdrawal Bill that we are deliberating later today. Why are this Conservative Government dismissing the will of the people of Scotland, ignoring their voice and disregarding our Parliament?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
8 Jan 2020, midnight

I think the real question is, why do the SNP keep going on about breaking up the most successful union in history? It is to distract from their abundant failures in government. In spite of getting £9 billion a year from the UK Exchequer, which of course they would lose if they were so foolish as to break away, they are mismanaging their healthcare. It is not the fault of Scottish pupils, but we are seeing Scottish schools falling behind in educational standards. Concentrate on what you are doing and stop going on about breaking up the Union.

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Wednesday 30th October 2019

(7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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The Prime Minister - Hansard

I congratulate my hon. Friend on everything he does to campaign for his constituents, and particularly for the hospital in Stanmore. I assure him that that hospital, along with many others, will be in line for the funding that it requires. On his specific point about the administration at that hospital, I will ask my right hon. Friend the Health Secretary to deal with his concerns very speedily.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 12:29 p.m.

Can I, Mr Speaker, on behalf of those of us on the SNP Benches, wish you all the best for your impending retirement and salute you, Sir, for the way that you have stood up for the democracy of this House in order that at this time of crisis we hold the Government to account? We trust that you will enjoy your many passions in retirement. You will always be welcome up in Scotland, and if you need to visit a football team as an antidote to Arsenal you will always be welcome at Easter Road to see the mighty Hibernian. Let me, Mr Speaker, wish England all the best for the rugby on Saturday.

This Prime Minister’s extreme Brexit will take a wrecking ball to the economy and cost Scotland and the United Kingdom £70 billion a year. [Interruption.] We talk about the impact of Brexit and the Conservatives howl and complain, because they know the reality is that it is going to damage people’s lives. Is it not the truth that this Prime Minister is willing to throw Scotland under his big red bus to deliver his Brexit, no matter what the cost?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 12:32 p.m.

As the right hon. Gentleman knows very well, the greatest damage that could be done to the Scottish economy would be the SNP’s reckless plan to break up the Union with the UK. Sixty per cent. of Scotland’s exports are with the rest of the UK. They would be throwing away not just the biggest block grant in history that Scotland has received this year but, of course, all the benefits of membership of the most successful political partnership in history, from shipbuilding in Govan to the Glasgow climate change summit next year, which will be a glory of our whole United Kingdom and which is coming to Scotland precisely because Scotland is part of the United Kingdom. They would throw all that away with their crackpot plan for borders at Berwick and creating a new Scottish currency or joining the euro; and, worse still, going into the European Union and handing back control of Scotland’s fisheries—Scotland’s spectacular marine wealth. Just at the moment that they have been won back by this country, they would hand back control of those fisheries to Brussels. That is their policy; I look forward to contesting it at the barricades.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard

You know, Mr Speaker, I thought it was Prime Minister’s questions, not a rant from the Prime Minister. I have to say—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard

Well, I certainly wish Mr Grant all the best for his future, because he is not coming back, like so many of the Scottish Conservatives. We hear that the Prime Minister will be coming up to Scotland in the election campaign. He will be welcome, because each time he comes to Scotland he drives up SNP support.

Scotland did not vote for Brexit and we will not have it forced upon us. Is it not clear that the Scottish National party is the only party standing up for Scotland’s interests and respecting our democratic decision to remain in the European Union? This coming election will be one of the most important in Scotland’s history. Only a vote for the SNP can secure the escape route for Scotland away from this Brexit mess, from the chaos of Westminster and from the austerity of the Tories, and protect Scotland’s right to choose our own future as an independent country in Europe.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, midnight

I am sorry if I seemed to rant at the right hon. Gentleman, but if I may say so, he does rant quite a lot about independence for Scotland—he bangs on about it endlessly. Why does he go on about Scottish independence so much? It is because he wants to conceal what the SNP Government are actually doing in Scotland. They are wrecking it. They are diabolical for the Scottish economy. They have the highest taxes in the UK. They are not running either health or education well. That is why they are so monomaniacal about independence and smashing the Union.

There are some wonderful things happening in Scotland, and it is very often thanks to Scottish Conservatives, who are delivering £200 million for Scottish farmers—that is all thanks to the intercessions of Scottish Conservatives —as part of the biggest ever block grant from London to Scotland. It is Scottish Conservatives who can be relied upon, unlike any other party in Scotland—unlike Labour or the SNP—to keep the Union together: the most successful political partnership in history.

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Wednesday 23rd October 2019

(7 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Parliament Live - Hansard
23 Oct 2019, 12:22 p.m.

The loss of life that we have learned about this morning in Essex—39 people taken from this earth—should distress us all, and we need to dwell on the fact that it happened in the United Kingdom: people put themselves in such situations in the search of a better life. We must not just brush it off as an incident. We have to learn the lessons of why it happened. Our thoughts and prayers must be with everyone, including those from the emergency services who have had to experience this most shocking sight this morning. We need more than just warm words and that being the end of it. As a humanity, we must learn from this terrible, terrible tragedy.

Within the last hour, the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales joined forces to oppose this Tory Government’s damaging Brexit Bill—a Bill that risks jobs, opportunities and our entire economic future. Scotland did not vote for this toxic Tory Brexit or any Brexit. It voted overwhelmingly to remain. Will the Prime Minister stop ignoring Scotland and confirm today that he will not allow this Bill to pass unless consent is given by the Scottish Parliament—yes or no?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

I note carefully what the right hon. Gentleman has to say, but, as he knows, the Scottish Parliament has no role in approving this deal. On the contrary, it is up to the Members of this Parliament to approve the deal. I am delighted to say that they did, although it did not proceed with the support of many Scottish nationalist MPs—[Interruption.] Or any of them. But if he really still disagrees with this deal and with the way forward, may I propose to him that he has a word with the other Opposition parties and joins our support for a general election to settle the matter?

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard

There we have it. The legislative consent of the Scottish Parliament is meaningless in the Prime Minister’s eyes. So much for the respect agenda, and so much for the message in 2014 that we were to lead the United Kingdom and that this was a Union of equals—torn asunder by the disrespect of this Prime Minister—[Interruption.] Well, Conservative Members do not like the truth, but the people of Scotland have heard it from the Prime Minister today: our Parliament does not matter. That is what this Prime Minister thinks of our Government in Scotland.

Last night, the Prime Minister was yet again defeated by this House. He said that he would pull his Bill, but he has not. He wants Scotland to trust him, but how can we? Fired twice for lying, found unlawful by the courts, the Prime Minister has sold Scotland out time and again. Parliament and Scotland cannot trust this Prime Minister. If he so desperately wants an election, Europe is willing and waiting, so what is stopping him? He must now secure a meaningful extension and bring on a general election. Let the Scottish people decide our future in Scotland.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
23 Oct 2019, 12:24 p.m.

Well, what an exciting development! Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman might pass some of his courage down the line.

On the point the right hon. Gentleman raises about our commitment to the Union, he should know that, thanks to Scotland’s membership of the Union, Scotland this year received the biggest ever block grant— £1.2 billion—with £200 million more secured for Scottish farming thanks to the hard work of Scottish Conservative MPs. Who is letting down Scotland? It is the Scottish National party, with its lackadaisical Government: the highest taxes anywhere in the UK; declining educational standards; inadequate healthcare; and a European policy that would take Scotland back into the EU and hand back control of Scotland’s fish to Brussels. If that is their manifesto, I look forward to contesting it with them at the polls.

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Tuesday 22nd October 2019

(7 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Oct 2019, 7:34 p.m.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. Let me say in response how welcome it is—even joyful—that, for the first time in this long saga, this House has accepted its responsibilities, come together and embraced a deal. I congratulate Members across the House on the scale of our collective achievement. Just a few weeks ago, hardly anybody believed that we could reopen the withdrawal agreement, let alone abolish the backstop, and certainly nobody thought that we could secure the approval of the House for a new deal. We should not overlook the significance of this moment. I pay particular tribute to those Members of the House who were sceptical and who had difficulties and doubts, but who decided to place the national interest ahead of any other consideration.

However, I must express my disappointment that the House has again voted for delay, rather than a timetable that would have guaranteed that the UK was in a position to leave the EU on 31 October with a deal. We now face further uncertainty, and the EU must now make up their minds about how to answer Parliament’s request for a delay. The first consequence is that the Government must take the only responsible course and accelerate our preparations for a no-deal outcome. Secondly, however, I will speak to EU member states about their intentions and, until they have reached a decision, we will pause this legislation.

Let me be clear: our policy remains that we should not delay and that we should leave the EU on 31 October. That is what I will say to the EU, and I will report back to the House. One way or another, we will leave the EU with this deal, to which this House has just given its assent, and I thank Members across the House for that hard-won agreement.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Parliament Live - Hansard

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I must say that I find the response of the Prime Minister quite extraordinary, because the facts of the matter are—[Interruption.]

Prime Minister’s Statement
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Saturday 19th October 2019

(7 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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The Prime Minister - Hansard
19 Oct 2019, 10:12 a.m.

I am making a valid point, which is that in Brussels my right hon. and learned Friend’s message has not really been perfectly understood, because they are continuing with a large number of federalist projects. At the European Council, only a couple of days ago, I heard the distinguished President of France calling for a union bancaire—a banking union, Mr Speaker; spelt b-a-n-c-a-i-r-e. There is a strong desire to intensify the process of integration—for example, by creating a defence pact— in a way that I think would meet the scepticism of not just my right hon. and learned Friend, but millions of people across the EU. I can give him an absolute reassurance that in the course of negotiations—in which we would want the entire House, or as many Members who want to be involved as possible, to take part—we will ensure that we get exactly what I think he desires: a zero-tariff, zero-quota free trade partnership so that there is maximum trade, and increasing trade, between our economies.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Hansard
19 Oct 2019, 10:14 a.m.

May I join you, Mr Speaker, in thanking all the staff who have made today’s sitting possible? I also thank the Prime Minister for advance sight of his statement.

Northern Ireland, 13: Scotland, zero—those are the number of references to Northern Ireland and to Scotland in the Prime Minister’s statement. There was not one reference to Scotland. The Prime Minister has returned from Brussels to present a deal that he knows—that we all know—is actually worse than Theresa May’s deal. It is a deal that would see Scotland shafted by this United Kingdom Government and left at an economic disadvantage, with Scotland’s views and interests totally disregarded by this Prime Minister and his Government.

The Scottish National party could not have been clearer: we would support any mandate to approach the European Union to remain in the single market and the customs union, or simply to remain in the European Union altogether. Yet the Prime Minister has made it clear that he is not interested in meaningful discussions with the SNP or our Scottish Government. He and his cronies in No. 10 do not care about Scotland. This Tory Government have sold Scotland out, and once against they have let Scotland down.

While, rightfully, Northern Ireland has been allowed special arrangements to remain in the single market and the customs union, the Prime Minister will not afford Scotland the same arrangements. He did not even consider giving Scotland a fair deal. Despite the fact that the Scottish people, like the people of Northern Ireland, voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union, this Prime Minister has never entertained the notion of giving Scotland the same arrangements that Northern Ireland gets in this deal.

The truth is that the Prime Minister does not care about Scotland. He and his Government have treated the Scottish Government, our Scottish Parliament and the Scottish people with nothing but contempt.

Not a single MP who cares about Scotland’s future should consider supporting the Prime Minister today. They should stand with the Scottish National party and vote this deal down. Any and all assessments of any Brexit outcome show that the United Kingdom and Scotland will be poorer, no matter how we leave the European Union. People up and down Scotland know that the Prime Minister, his Brexit fan boys and the Vote Leave campaign have ignored and shafted Scotland.

England is getting what it voted for, Wales is getting what it voted for, and Northern Ireland is getting a special deal, yet Scotland, which democratically voted to remain, is being ignored and treated as a second-class nation by this Government. How will the Prime Minister justify himself to the people of Scotland at the general election? When he cannot, and when he fails, and when the Brexit-backing fan club from all quarters fails, will he finally respect the mandate of the Scottish people and let them have their say on our future?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
19 Oct 2019, 10:16 a.m.

I am sure the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues will want to join me in congratulating the England rugby team on their 40-16 victory over Australia—

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard
19 Oct 2019, 10:16 a.m.

indicated assent.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
19 Oct 2019, 10:16 a.m.

There was a lot enthusiasm in that response.

The right hon. Gentleman was a little bit churlish in his response to my statement, because after all I did not mention England and I did not mention Wales, either. Of course, the reason why Northern Ireland is a particular subject of discussion—it is a legitimate point—is that there are particular circumstances in Northern Ireland at the border that deserve particular respect and sensitivity, and that is what they have received in the deal.

This is a great deal for England, a great deal for Wales, a great deal for Scotland and a great deal for Northern Ireland. The people of Scotland now have the chance, championed by wonderful Scottish Conservative MPs, to take back control of their fisheries from the end of next year. That will allow the people of Scotland at last to enjoy the benefits of their spectacular marine wealth in a way that they would be denied under the Scottish nationalist party which, as I never tire of telling you, Mr Speaker, would hand back control of Scottish fishing to Brussels.

Brexit Negotiations
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Thursday 3rd October 2019

(8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Oct 2019, 11:55 a.m.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. The Opposition have many times—at least several times—rejected the invitation to have a general election, for reasons that I think will be apparent to most people in this House and most people in this country. We must leave the Opposition to consider their own decision, but what I can certainly tell my hon. Friend is that under this deal, this country will certainly be taking back control not only of its borders and its money, but also of course its laws.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Parliament Live - Hansard

May I thank the Prime Minister for advance sight of his statement?

I want to be very clear with the Prime Minister from the outset. These proposals are unacceptable. They are unworkable. They are undeliverable. It is all about blaming someone else, in this case the European Union when his plan is rejected. It is a plan designed to fail. But of course, the Prime Minister knows that. By his own design, this “take it or leave it” threat is yet another push towards a catastrophic no-deal exit.

For Scotland, these proposals would take us out of the European Union, the single market and the customs union against our will. The UK Government’s document talks about the consent of the people of Northern Ireland as being required. Where is the requirement for the consent of the Scottish people, who voted to remain and whose voices are ignored by this Conservative Government? The Prime Minister may have bought the consent of the Democratic Unionist party with these proposals, but every other political party in Northern Ireland and every major business group is not buying it. They are not alone. The Prime Minister does not have the consent of this House, and he does not have the consent of these islands for this doomed deal or for a devastating no-deal Brexit. Let me tell him now: he will never have the consent of Scotland.

Prime Minister, why is it acceptable for Northern Ireland to stay in the single market of the European Union but not for Scotland? This is not a basis for a deal; it is a half-baked plan from Dominic Cummings and his Brexit fanatics. The Prime Minister knows that he cannot get his proposal approved and he does not care, because the truth is that he either has no interest in getting deal at all or does not grasp the reality of a workable backstop.

The Prime Minister must be reminded that he is duty bound to obey the law and seek an extension to the 31 October deadline. So let me put this to the Prime Minister: the proposed deal was dead even before he left the podium of the Tory conference. The Prime Minister’s contempt for this House—because that is what it is—for democracy and for the people to have their say through their representatives is clear for all to see. This House must take back control, not for us but for the people we serve.

So I want to ask the Prime Minister—and I want him to think very carefully before he answers—and I say to him: give us an actual answer. Will the Prime Minister obey the law as required to seek an extension, and if not, will he commit today, right here, right now, that he will resign? We will not let the Prime Minister shift the blame—[Interruption.] It is quite remarkable. We are talking about a Prime Minister threatening to break the law and the guffaws from the Tory Benches say it all.

We will not let the Prime Minister shift the blame for his devastating plans for a no-deal Brexit. The responsibility for the catastrophic threat lies solely and squarely at the Prime Minister’s door. That is why I want to put the Prime Minister on notice: the SNP will do everything possible to secure an extension and to stop a no-deal Brexit. I say to the Prime Minister: be warned—secure an extension or resign. If not, the SNP stands ready to bring this Government down.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

Again, I must say I am slightly disappointed by the tone the right hon. Gentleman has taken. I would remind him that the people of Scotland voted to remain in the UK and in the UK single market. If he wishes to avoid a no-deal outcome, I respectfully suggest to him that the best way to avoid one would be to vote for a deal that we secure, and these proposals do amount to a very good basis for a deal. Finally, if he wants to remove me from office, the best thing he can do is to work on the Leader of the Opposition, persuade him to call a general election and try his luck that way.

Prime Minister's Update
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Wednesday 25th September 2019

(8 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard

I thank my right hon. Friend for his acute question. I am afraid the answer is simple: the Opposition do not want an election because they are not sure that the public would trust them with the Government—and I think that they are right. I think they put the yellow into yellowhammer.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Parliament Live - Hansard

I thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of his statement. When I read the first paragraph, it talked about the Supreme Court verdict. It was not the Supreme Court verdict; it was the judgment of the Supreme Court. Perhaps the Prime Minister might start to show some respect for the judiciary. We are here today because the Prime Minister was utterly humiliated by the Supreme Court, by a count of 11 to zero. Members might have thought, in that diatribe that we had, that we would have some humility and that we might have been able to acknowledge that what we have had is the unlawful shutting-down of Parliament. Mr Speaker, sorry is indeed the hardest word for the Prime Minister.

It was said by a former Prime Minister that where law ends, tyranny begins. It pains me to say it, but the fact that the Prime Minister is still standing here today shows that he does in fact believe he is above the law. Well, he is not. Thank heavens for the action that was brought in the courts in Scotland and England, and I pay tribute to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry). Thank goodness the courts have done their job and made sure that parliamentarians are back where they should be, in this House, holding the Government to account.

The ruling of the Supreme Court has made it absolutely crystal clear: the actions of this Government and this Prime Minister led to the unlawful prorogation of Parliament. Delivering the verdict, Lady Hale stated that prorogation was null and void. Have you no shame, Prime Minister? The Court concluded that the decision was unlawful because it had

“the effect of frustrating or preventing, without reasonable justification, the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions”.

The Prime Minister talks about us running off to the courts. Well, we got the courts to do what he failed to do, which was to respect parliamentary sovereignty. The Court talked of

“frustrating or preventing, without reasonable justification, the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions”

How devastating for a Prime Minister to have such a judgment. Where law ends, tyranny begins. Yet, the Prime Minister said he did not agree with the courts. He only agrees with his cronies in No. 10—his Brexit-obsessed fan club. He cannot pick and choose when it comes to the law; he must obey the law. That is not leadership; he quite simply is not fit for office.

I hear the Prime Minister talking about a surrender Act. How despicable that, when he refers to Members of this House who are doing their duty to protect our constituents, he uses language such as “surrender”. That language is not suitable for the Prime Minister of any country.

The Prime Minister’s position is no longer tenable. His failure to resign is an embarrassment. People have had enough of this shambles. We have reached a difficult and dangerous point—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 7:11 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

I have one question for the Prime Minister for now. Do the right thing, and do it now. Prime Minister, end this dictatorship. Will you now resign?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 7:12 p.m.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman. On his substantive point, we do respect the Supreme Court. The reason that I want a Queen’s Speech, and wanted a Queen’s Speech, is quite frankly, of course, because we have to do what we can as a United Kingdom to remedy the waste and incompetence of the high-taxing, fish-abandoning Government of the SNP in Scotland. That is why we are investing in 20,000 more police officers, 20 new hospital upgrades, levelling up education spending, and funding gigabit broadband across the country. I hope—and I bet the people of Scotland hope—that in spite of all the uselessness of the Government of Scotland that those benefits will be passed on to the people, because that is the only obstacle in our way.

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Wednesday 4th September 2019

(9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Cabinet Office
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:21 p.m.

Last night, Parliament once again defeated this shambolic Tory Government. Today, we have seized back control from a Prime Minister who is behaving more like a dictator than a democrat. The Prime Minister must be stopped, and MPs must tonight unite across this House to take no deal off the table. We will defeat the Government again, so, when we succeed, will the Prime Minister respect the democratic vote of this House and the democratic will of the people we represent and finally act to remove the threat of a catastrophic no-deal Brexit?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:22 p.m.

I might ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will respect the democratic will of the people of the United Kingdom, which this House voted to do time and again, to implement the result of the referendum.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:22 p.m.

I know that the right hon. Gentleman is a new boy, but may I suggest to him that we ask the questions and he is supposed to answer them? Quite simply, my colleagues and I are sent here by the people of Scotland, where we have a majority. The people of Scotland voted to remain in the European Union and we are not going to be dragged out against our will by the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister must also not be paying attention to the polls this morning. They show that the Scottish National party is polling to win a majority in Scotland once again, with the Tories in retreat, so if he wants an election, he should enable the Bill and bring it on.

It is clear for all to see that the Prime Minister is playing a game of bluff and bluster. He does not care about stopping a no-deal Brexit. His strategy, as his lead adviser put it, is a sham. This is not a Parliament versus the people; it is a Parliament standing up for the people. The people did not vote for a no-deal Brexit. This Prime Minister is robbing the people of power and handing control to the Leave campaign, the cult now running No. 10. Once again, I ask the Prime Minister: are you a dictator or a Democrat? Will he accept the legislation today so that no deal can be avoided, and will he let us vote for an election so that the people can truly decide the next steps?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:24 p.m.

I am a democrat, because I not only want to respect the will of the people in the referendum but want to have an election—or I am willing to have an election—if the terrible Bill goes through.

There is a reason why the separatists in Scotland drone on and on about breaking up and smashing the oldest and most successful political union, and that is to detract from their appalling domestic record. They are a total shambles. They have the highest taxes anywhere in Europe. Their educational standards are falling, for which they are responsible. Their signature policy—[Interruption.] This is a useful point. Their signature policy is to return Scotland to the European Union after Brexit, complete with the euro, the full panoply of EU laws and, as I never tire of saying, the surrendering of Scottish fish just when they have been taken back by this country.

G7 Summit
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Tuesday 3rd September 2019

(9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Sep 2019, 4:05 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. As the Father of the House knows, I am a long-standing admirer of his. Indeed, I was the only member of the 2001 intake to vote for my right hon. and learned Friend as leader of the Conservative party. [Interruption.] I was—a fact that I do not think he much thanked me for at the time. I have long been a fan of his, and indeed in many ways we are ad idem in our views. I agree with him—I do not want an election. We do not want an election. I do not think the Leader of the Opposition wants an election, by the way, as far as I can make it out. We do not want an election; we want to get the deal done, and the best way to get a deal is to support the Government in the Lobby tonight.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Sep 2019, 4:06 p.m.

I thank the Prime Minister for advance sight of his statement.

My goodness—this is the second time the Prime Minister has been at the Dispatch Box, and this must be the shortest-lived honeymoon in parliamentary history; you simply have to look around his Benches. He may say that he does not want an election, and his colleagues certainly do not want one, but I will let him into a secret: we do, because we want the people of Scotland to be able to have their say on this shambolic Government. The Leader of the House talks about the strategy of the Prime Minister. We hear use of the words “collaborators” and “surrender”; the Prime Minister really should have some dignity and show some respect for the office he —temporarily—holds.

Of course, one of the most remarkable things that took place during the statement was to see the hon. Member for Bracknell (Dr Lee) cross the Floor. Prime Minister: you have lost your majority.

Over the weekend, we saw commemorations across the world to mark the 80th anniversary of the second world war, when brave citizens came together and stood together against tyranny. My thoughts and those of my party are with those who suffered, the veterans and their families. We should also recognise that the European Union is the legacy of two world wars that had ripped Europe apart. The European Union has been an important vehicle for peace and stability in Europe.

Turning to the G7 summit, I wish to express my shared concern at the unrest in Hong Kong. I also associate myself with the actions on climate change and on protecting the Amazon rain forest. But I take issue with President Trump’s comments in relation to Russia. It is not acceptable to condone Russia’s military and cyber aggression around the world. Furthermore, while the summit declared its support for progress in Ukraine, the President of the United States failed to challenge Russia’s violation of international law in Ukraine—another utterly disgraceful lack of leadership from the President of the United States.

Following the summit, the Prime Minister displayed his own lack of leadership by moving to prorogue Parliament and strip power away from elected representatives—closing down Parliament by sending three Privy Counsellors to instruct the Queen to sanction the closure of Parliament. Three Privy Counsellors acting on the instructions of the Prime Minister to shut down Parliament: where is the democracy in that? While he can dance around and profess to speak for the people, we all know the truth—he is in fact doing the opposite. By proroguing Parliament, the Prime Minister is robbing the people of power; robbing them of a say over their future.

In true Trumpian style, the Prime Minister is acting more like a tinpot dictator than a democrat. He talks of the will of the people—but what about the will of the people of Scotland? Prime Minister, the Scottish people did not vote for Brexit. The people of Scotland did not vote for a no-deal Brexit. They did not vote for the Tory party and they certainly did not vote for this Prime Minister. The people of Scotland voted to remain in the European Union. The Scottish people voted overwhelmingly against the Tory party and this Government. The people of Scotland made their choice, and they chose that the SNP should be their voice. So I ask the Prime Minister: are you a democrat, or not; do you respect the will of the Scottish people, or not? Will you, Prime Minister, if you believe yourself not to be the latter, then give the people back their say: allow Parliament to have its say; respect the will of Parliament in stopping a no-deal Brexit—a no-deal Brexit that would be devastating for jobs and communities?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
3 Sep 2019, 2:49 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman makes a serious point about the US’s attitude towards Russia. May I gently remind him that, when it came to the Skripal poisonings in Salisbury, the United States expelled 60 diplomats in support of the UK, in solidarity with the UK and to show their revulsion at Russian behaviour? As for whether or not it is right to have a Queen’s Speech, the Opposition have been calling for a Queen’s Speech just about every week—finally they get one, and they protest.

On the EU, it remains the policy of the Scottish nationalist party once we have come out of the European Union on 31 October—it is their avowed policy; they are inevitably committed to this by logic—to go back into the EU. That is what they say they want to do if they were to achieve independence: to submit to the whole panoply of EU law, to scrap the pound in favour of some unknown currency hitherto unbaptised—the Salmond, the Sturgeon or whatever it happens to be—and, above all, to hand back control of Scotland’s fisheries to the EU, just as they have been reclaimed by this country. What an extraordinary policy!

Priorities for Government
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Thursday 25th July 2019

(10 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I thank my right hon. Friend very much for that excellent question and the point that he makes. It is vital now that, as we prepare for a better deal, a new deal, we get ready, of course, for no deal—not that I think that that will be the outcome and not that I desire that outcome. But it is vital that we prepare business, industry and farming: every community in this country that needs the relevant advice. As my right hon. Friend has wisely suggested, there will be a very active and public campaign to do so.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Jul 2019, 12:09 p.m.

I should welcome the Prime Minister to his place: the last Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It is often said that the Prime Minister lives in a parallel universe—well, my goodness, that has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt this morning. In fact, it looked as if he was about to launch himself into outer space.

There are questions to be asked as to the mandate that the Prime Minister has for the office that he now occupies. He has been appointed not by this House, not by the people but by the Tory party. What have they done? It horrifies me that the new Prime Minister finds his position through such an undemocratic process. Indeed, it was the Prime Minister himself who called the system a “gigantic fraud” when Gordon Brown was parachuted into office, just like he was, 12 years ago. Scotland did not vote for Brexit, we did not vote for no deal, and we most certainly did not vote for this Prime Minister.

Will the Prime Minister accept the First Minister’s call this morning for an urgent meeting of the Heads of Government? Scottish Government analysis has shown that a no-deal Brexit will hit the economy hard, with a predicted 8% hit to GDP, threatening up to 100,000 Scottish jobs. Just this week alone, we have seen the International Monetary Fund, the Confederation of British Industry, the Trades Union Congress, the food and drink industry and the British Chambers of Commerce all warning of a no-deal Brexit. The Office for Budget Responsibility has revealed that a no-deal Brexit could lead to a plunge in the value of the pound and leave a £30 billion black hole in the public finances. What analysis has the Prime Minister made of no deal? When he was asked last week, he had no answer. He wants to drive us off the cliff edge and he does not even know the impact of the damage that will cause. This is the height of irresponsibility —economic madness driven by ideology—from the Prime Minister, supported by his new right-wing ideologues on the Front Bench.

A new deal from Europe is the stuff of fantasy. Time and again, Europe has made it clear that the withdrawal agreement is not open for negotiation. Last night, Leo Varadkar confirmed once again that it will not happen. The Prime Minister has no plan. He is full of bluster, but the consequences of his fantasy land will have devastating consequences. He is deluded. Let me warn the Prime Minister: if he tries to take Scotland and the United Kingdom out of the European Union on a no-deal basis, we will stop him doing so. This House will stop the Prime Minister. We will not let him do untold damage to the jobs and constituents of our country. Parliament will stop this madness in its tracks.

The Prime Minister was elected by 0.13% of the population. He has no mandate from Scotland. He has no mandate in this House. Scotland has had a Tory Government for whom it did not vote for 36 of the past 64 years. The Barnett formula that protects spending in Scotland has been criticised by the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and the Foreign Secretary. Will the Prime Minister today rule out changing the Barnett formula, or is Scotland under attack from this Prime Minister?

The whole internal Tory party crisis has been a democratic outrage. Scotland’s First Minister has been clear that she is now reviewing the timetable for a second independence referendum. Scotland will not stand by and let decisions be taken by charlatans on our behalf. I ask the Prime Minister to do the honourable thing: call a general election and let the people of Scotland have their say.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
25 Jul 2019, 12:12 p.m.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his suggestion. I should point out that the people of this country have voted in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and what they want to see is this Parliament delivering on the mandate that they gave us, including him. I take no criticism of my election from the party whose leader, Nicola Sturgeon, replaced Alex Salmond without a vote, as far as I know. Did she not?

The right hon. Gentleman is completely wrong in his analysis and his defeatism and pessimism about our wonderful United Kingdom, which he seeks to break up, because if we can deliver a fantastic, sensible and progressive Brexit, which I believe we can, and the whole United Kingdom comes out, as I know that it will, what happens then to the arguments of the Scottish nationalist party? Will they seriously continue to say that Scotland must join the euro independently? Will they seriously suggest that Scotland must submit to the entire panoply of EU law? Will they join Schengen? Is it really their commitment to hand back control of Scottish fisheries to Brussels, just after this country—this great United Kingdom—has taken back that fantastic resource? Is that really the policy of the Scottish nationalist party? I respectfully suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that that is not the basis on which to seek election in Scotland. We will win on a manifesto for the whole United Kingdom.

European Union (Withdrawal) Act
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Tuesday 4th December 2018

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Cabinet Office
Boris Johnson - Parliament Live - Hansard

I will not comment on when I heard about just-in-time supply chains, but it was many years ago. The objective, as my right hon. Friend knows, is to create a zero-tariff, zero-quota deal with the EU, which is readily deliverable when we consider that we already have zero tariffs and zero quotas. As for her anxiety about job losses, we have already heard a lot of prophecies about job losses. I think it was said that we would lose 500,000 jobs in this country if the British people had the temerity to vote leave. Actually, we gained 800,000 jobs, so I take such prophecies with a pinch of salt.

The sad thing is that too many people—indeed, some of the people who have been negotiating this deal—seem to regard Brexit as a disaster to be managed, rather than an opportunity. They see bad news as a vindication of that judgment and talk up bad news as a result. In taking that attitude, they badly misunderstand the instincts of the people of this country, who did not vote for Brexit out of hate, as the Prime Minister’s chief of staff tweeted after the referendum. They voted to take back control of our laws because they believe—I think, rightly—that if we govern ourselves and legislate in the interests of the UK economy, they have a better chance of good jobs, higher wages, cheaper food and clothes, and a brighter future, all of which are possible under a proper Brexit, and none of which can be delivered by this deal.

Above all, if we vote through this apology for Brexit, we will be showing that we have treated the 17.4 million people—the highest number of people ever to vote for a single proposition—with contempt. We will be turning our backs on those people. We must understand that when people voted to leave in 2016, they voted for change. They did not vote for an endless transition or a thinly disguised version of the status quo: they voted for freedom, independence and a better Britain—and for a country where politicians actually listen to what the people say. If we try to cheat them now—as I fear that we are trying to cheat them—they will spot it, and they will never forgive us.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Dec 2018, 8:04 p.m.

It is difficult to be here today. It is in many respects a debate that many of us wish was not happening. It is with real sorrow that I rise to respond to the Government’s motion. The reality of Brexit is now laid before us—broken promises of taking back control from a Government that are so out of control; 21 ministerial resignations; countries, communities and households divided; our politics stale; and a Prime Minister fighting for her political life.

The past number of months have been filled with political drama—theatre, squabbles and chaos—and from crisis to crisis, the Government hang on by a thread. Beneath all that is the reality, the hard, cold truth, that this is a moment of self-harm in our history. History has a way of teaching us lessons. If only we would listen.

In moments such as these, I reflect on someone we regard as an icon: Winnie Ewing—Madame Ecosse—who came into this House 51 years ago to represent the seat of Hamilton. She represented the Highlands and Islands in the European Parliament and fought hard to ensure that Scotland benefited from its membership of that Parliament. I can see those benefits throughout my constituency in all the projects that were funded by European money. We had a welcoming ear in the European Parliament, and Winnie played an important part in the development of that institution.

We have heard today about the importance of Erasmus, and it holds a special place in the Scottish National party’s heart because it was Winnie Ewing who chaired the European Parliament’s education and culture committee when Erasmus was established in the 1980s. It is the legacy of someone who fought hard to ensure that all of us benefited from that European membership. In contrasting the approach that we have had from Europe with that of this place, I want to quote the great lady herself. She said:

“Time after time, on matters great and small, we are still standing on the sidelines, mutely accepting what is decided elsewhere instead of raising our voices and making our own choices. Scotland’s much vaunted partnership of Jonah and the whale.”

Respect for human dignity, human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law are the core values of the European Union. Those values have united, not divided, us as citizens of Europe for many years. They are now ingrained in our society, and they are to be cherished and protected, not discarded or eroded. I am proud and privileged to be a citizen of the European Union. The European Union has been the greatest peace project in our lifetime. It was born out of the horrors of two world wars that ripped Europe apart, and it is a project that has gone on to change the course of our communities and improve citizens’ rights and opportunities across the continent. It is a project that I still believe is worth defending, and those of us on the SNP Benches will defend it. It is a project that has enabled our generations to travel, to work, to live and to thrive across all the countries of the European Union.

I come here today with a heavy heart and with the deepest regret that the opportunities I had to work in Amsterdam, to travel throughout Europe in my working career and to learn from the best and the brightest across Europe will be taken from our children. That is what we are doing. Embracing the diversity of European culture has enriched so many of us. We have had exciting opportunities to live and work in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Berlin, Copenhagen, Vienna and so many other places. Our generation has had so many choices and opportunities to work and develop friendships across Europe, to learn from the rich diversity that Europe has to offer, to benefit from the experiences of different cultures and to form friendships with those like us who celebrate being European citizens with shared rights. The right to live and work across the EU is to be ended as a right for the next generation.

I have in the Gallery today an ex-colleague from Amsterdam, where I worked for a bakery ingredients company. My friendship with him was formed out of the opportunity I had to work in Amsterdam, and it is a celebration of the success of the opportunities that EU membership gave to all of us. That right to live and work together across the EU is to be ended as a right for the next generation. That automatic right to benefit from those career opportunities is to be removed. The opportunities to benefit from an inclusive Europe are to be swapped for the constraints of an inward-looking United Kingdom.

Korean Peninsula
Debate between Boris Johnson and Ian Blackford
Tuesday 5th September 2017

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Boris Johnson - Hansard
5 Sep 2017, 7:49 p.m.

I am delighted to hear Amitai Etzioni quoted on the subject of Korea. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to focus on the partnership and potential of the relationship between the US and China. They hold the key to the question between them, but, as I say, where there are differences it can be our task to try to help to bridge the gap, then unite the rest of the international community on a common position.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) - Hansard
5 Sep 2017, 7:50 p.m.

I seek to propose that the House should debate a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely the UK exiting the EU and the role of devolved Administrations.

With Parliament on the cusp of debating the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, the House should take note that the UK Government have not held a Joint Ministerial Committee with the Governments of the devolved nations since 8 February this year. On 15 June, the Scottish and Welsh Governments wrote jointly to the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union requesting a meeting of the JMC. This request has not been granted by the UK Government, which is in direct violation of the rules set out in the JMC concordat, memorandum of understanding and supplementary agreements. Any request for a meeting should be actioned within a month. It is completely unacceptable that the UK Government are ignoring the request from both the Welsh and Scottish Governments for a JMC meeting.

We know that the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill touches on areas of devolved responsibility. We know that the UK Government are going to have to ask for legislative consent motions from the devolved Parliaments. In doing so, they are seemingly not prepared to respect the established procedures that should allow both dialogue and mutual respect between Westminster and the devolved Administrations.

Often in this place, we hear the phrase “taking back control”. It should not mean taking powers from the devolved Administrations, as is happening, and certainly not without appropriate mechanisms for resolution. There has to be co-operation with all the devolved Governments, and the JMC is the forum for that to take place. The House needs to debate why it is not happening before the Bill is debated.

Emasculation of the devolved Administrations by itself undermines our democracy and questions the constitutional rights of our devolved Administrations. The UK Government seem to be provoking the devolved Administrations when we should be seeking co-operation. A minority UK Government have to seek to build consensus—I would venture that that is what the public want—and not seek division with democratically elected devolved Governments.

It is important that the House has the opportunity to debate those matters before the Bill is introduced. This is a Government who function as a minority Government. We have a society where there are divisions over Europe, and the legislative measures we will be discussing have an impact on devolved competency. The House has to hold the UK Government to account for their actions in the devolved areas.