This Saturday Parliament will debate the Prime Minister’s revised deal with the European Union. This deal is for all intents and purposes a revision of the deal Theresa May had reached with the EU earlier this year, which was rejected by the House in January and March of this year.
I, alongside all other SNP MPs, voted against Theresa May’s deal in January and in March. That deal did not protect Scotland’s interests. Scotland, in the referendum on leaving the European Union, voted overwhelmingly in favour to remain, and therefore for us to be able to accept a Brexit deal we would need to ensure that either the UK as a whole remains in the EU single market and customs union – or that Scotland is given a special arrangement comparable to the Northern Irish backstop.
Our preference was and remains to remain in the EU, but it is only in that case that we could have entertained the possibility of voting for a Brexit deal.
I will not support the Prime Minister’s renegotiated deal. Nothing has fundamentally changed to enable us in the SNP to support this deal. Neither of the scenarios we were willing to sign up to has been entertained.
The only significant difference between this deal and Theresa May’s deal is that it guarantees even less access to the single market – the UK’s commitment to “a trading relationship that is as close as possible” has been replaced by merely a commitment to a free trade agreement. This will mean even higher barriers to trade and greater economic damage for the people of Scotland and Glasgow South.
Throughout the Brexit process over the last three years, the Scottish Government have sought to constructively engage with the UK government and find a compromise that would respect key economic, social and human rights protections for people in Scotland and the rest of the UK. The UK Government’s failure to provide a valid alternative is on them.
I will not support this deal, alongside my SNP colleagues. I will vote to reject this deal, secure a Brexit extension and hold a general election to break the current parliamentary deadlock.
I am deeply concerned about, and strongly against, any Government plans to force voters to show photographic ID at polling stations.
There are few allegations of electoral fraud – and the disproportionate measure of introducing voter ID risks disenfranchising many communities.
Data from other parts of the world where such schemes have been introduced has shown that it leads to discrimination for older people, transgender people, people with disabilities both physical and non-physical, and ethnic minorities.
This is an overbearing measure, especially considering that the Electoral Commission identified just 28 cases of voter fraud in 2017.
In Parliament, SNP colleagues have pointed out that 7.5% of the electorate do not have access to any form of photo ID, and highlighted the barriers that this policy puts in the way of the electorate.
I will continue to oppose the UK Government on this issue and will further urge them to look at measures to expand, not constrict democracy, for example by extending the vote to 16 and 17 year olds, as the Scottish Parliament has already done so.
The UK Government should be doing more to encourage people to vote, rather than risk disenfranchising the electorate.
My office has been inundated with messages from constituents concerned at the government's attempt to prorogue Parliament in an effort to push through a devastating no deal Brexit.
All my efforts will be devoted to working with colleagues from across the House of Commons to prevent this from happening, and ensuring that Parliament's voice is heard and respected.
The Government needs to respect our Parliamentary system and refrain from acting like a dictatorship.
I have received a number of emails regarding food banks and food insecurity from constituents. The format of these emails does not allow me to respond personally, but I will set out my position here.
The level of food bank use across the UK are totally unacceptable. This is evidence of the complete failure of the UK Government to properly support people on low incomes across the UK, forcing them into crisis and reliance on food banks.
Trussell Trust research has made strong links between food bank use and the UK Government's welfare policies. They found 42% of foodbank referrals for the financial year 2015/16 needed a foodbank due to either benefit delays or benefit changes. 2 in 5 foodbanks they surveyed said Universal Credit is linked to increasing debts.
Yet when we try to question UK Government Ministers on foodbank usage in the UK, they refuse to comment.
It is clear the Tories are embarrassed about their track record on food poverty, which is only rising under their austerity policies.
The Tory’s car-crash approach to Brexit is also pushing up CPI, which is in turn making the cost of living and food prices continue to soar. Only certainty from this Government on Brexit and staying in the Single Market will stabilise household finances.
The SNP Government in Scotland are continued the £1 million a year Fair Food Fund into 2018/19. In addition, a further £1 million has helped fund new activity to support children facing food insecurity, particularly during school holidays. In Scotland we also provide free school meals for all pupils in P1-3, and for those from a low income background throughout their time at school.
Climate Change is one of the greatest challenges of our generation - socially, economically and from a security perspective.
In Scotland, the First Minister used her Spring conference speech to declare a climate change emergency and to commit the Scottish Government to taking action to go further than it has already done in this area, if that is what scientific conclusions deem necessary.
There is a global climate emergency and people across Scotland have been calling, rightly, for more ambition to tackle it and safeguard our planet for future generations.
Scotland will stop contributing to climate change within a generation under new, tougher climate change proposals.
Amendments to the Climate Change Bill have been lodged to set a legally binding target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest with Scotland becoming carbon neutral by 2040.
The existing targets proposed in the Bill were already world-leading. In response to calls from young people, scientists and businesses across the country, Scottish Ministers have adopted the advice of independent experts, the UK Climate Change Committee.
This means that in addition to the net-zero target for 2045, Scotland will reduce emissions by 70% by 2030 and 90% by 2040 – the most ambitious statutory targets in the world for these years.
The Committee’s recommended targets for Scotland are contingent on the Tory UK Government adopting a net-zero greenhouse gas emission target for 2050.
The Scottish Government has accepted the independent, expert advice that even higher targets are now possible, and given the urgency required on this issue, has acted immediately to set a target for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for 2045 which will see Scotland become carbon neutral by 2040.
The Scottish Government will continue to take an evidence-based approach and balance our climate, economic and social responsibilities. Scotland has already halved greenhouse gas emissions while growing the economy. The Scottish Government knows it can similarly deliver these new targets and is committed to meeting the most ambitious targets possible and doing so while continuing to build an inclusive and fair economy.
The Committee on Climate Change say that Scotland’s ability to meet these world-leading targets is contingent on the UK Government also accepting their advice and using the relevant policy levers that remain reserved.
In Westminster, MPs have followed the lead of the First Minister and declared a Climate Emergency. We must now ensure this is followed up with real action.
Last week’s BEIS committee report was clear that UK policy will prevent us achieving net zero. The UK Government must use its reserved powers act now to deliver for future generations
SNP MPs at Westminster will continue to raise these issues and push the UK to Government to match Scotland’s ambition in this crucial area and to ensure there is no backsliding on environmental protections as a result of the UK leaving the EU.