Last week, former Tory Chancellor Ken Clarke launched a scathing attack on his own Government, stating tellingly that Theresa May is running a “government with no policies.”
Mr Clarke, a vastly experienced Member of Parliament, signalled his intention to stand in opposition to the Tory UK Government should it decide to bring the prospect of triggering Article 50 to exit the EU to Parliament for ratification, stating that the idea of him changing his lifelong opinion of what is in the national interest is “laughable.”
100 days have now passed since the UK-wide result of the referendum on our membership of the European Union was to Leave – with Scotland voting by a huge majority to Remain.
Time and time again, my colleagues on SNP benches and I have raised the issue of leaving the EU with the Prime Minister and her Ministers, and time and again we are given no answers, no commitment and, crucially, no policies. Ken Clarke’s comments confirm that those advocating an EU Leave vote did so with no idea what to do if they won.
Following the referendum, I wrote to both the then-Prime Minister and then-Home Secretary seeking reassurances that EU citizens who live and work in the UK will be welcome to continue to stay here. However, they have been either unable or unwilling to answer even these most fundamental questions to date; questions that could determine the fate of around 3 million people living across the UK.
More recently, I asked the Leader of the House if the UK Government had any plans to ensure that the Stirling area would not lose out from EU funding as a result of the UK decision to leave the European Union. True to form, he could offer no definitive answer.
It is abundantly clear that there isn’t even a plan to address potential losses in EU funding once the UK does leave the European Union.
The Scottish economy benefits twice as much from our EU membership as the UK average – for every £1 we put in to the EU, we get around £20 back in generated economic activity through access to the single market. Access to this single market as well as the EU’s freedom of movement that makes it easier to travel to and visit other EU countries means that places such as the Stirling constituency – with a vitally important tourist industry – are at an advantage by being in the EU rather than out of it.
After 100 days, it’s high time the UK Government provided answers to some pretty fundamental questions, such as:
- Will the UK still be part of the single market?
- When will article 50 be triggered?
- Will the UK remain a member of the European Union Customs Union?
- Will businesses be able to continue to trade with the EU without customs checks or other administrative costs?
- Does the UK Government still stand by the pre-referendum economic projection papers published by HM Treasury?
- Will UK citizens living in the EU be given the right to remain and retain their rights to access services there?
- Will police in the UK continue to have use of the European Arrest Warrant?
- What will the impact of changes to freedom of movement be on NHS staff recruitment and retention?
I hope that when Parliament returns next week, the UK Government will provide answers instead of soundbites on these hugely important matters to communities and businesses across the Stirling area.
I can be contacted at: Steven Paterson MP, Springfield House, Laurelhill Business Park, Stirling FK7 9JQ; via email: firstname.lastname@example.org; or by phone: 01786 406 375.
Published originally this week in the Stirling Observer.