Scottish Labour is set to support a motion being put forward by the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon tomorrow that will indicate the party denies consent to Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill – despite the UK Labour Party voting for it.
Keir Starmer confirmed last week that UK Labour MPs will be whipped to vote in favour of the legislation implementing the post-Brexit deal agreed by the UK and the EU when it is put before parliament on Wednesday.
While describing the deal as “very, very thin”, the opposition leader said voting for it was nonetheless “in the national interest”. He added: “We have to make a success of this, we have to make it work. It is far better than no deal.”
Richard Leonard has confirmed this afternoon that the Scottish party will take a different stance, by voting in favour of a legislative consent motion being debated in the Scottish parliament on Wednesday that is expected to pass.
The Scottish Labour leader said: “Boris Johnson promised more than a year ago that he would ‘get Brexit done’, and that his deal was ‘oven ready’ – yet his shambolic government is racing to ratify its half-baked Brexit deal the day before the end of the transition period.
“There is no co-production here: no engagement with industry, trade unions or devolved governments on the terms of this trade deal, and barely any parliamentary scrutiny let alone public participation.
“It is our duty to stand up for Scotland in parliament tomorrow. But it is also our duty to protect Scottish businesses and jobs from the damage that this deal will do, and that means the SNP government must distribute the £300m of Barnett consequentials to businesses as soon as possible.
“We cannot lose sight of the fact that our economy is still in the depths of another crisis that the SNP left Scotland unprepared for. It’s time for a national plan for the Scottish economy.”
The motion in Holyrood, which has been put forward in the name of the First Minister of Scotland, looks highly likely to pass with support from Scottish Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat MSPs.
Here is the motion for tomorrow's Holyrood debate on the Brexit deal – in the name of Nicola Sturgeon. Says no deal "must be avoided", but that the deal would cause "severe damage to Scotland's environmental, economic and social interests" & urges MSPs not to consent to the bill pic.twitter.com/deX1mRezyp
— Philip Sim (@BBCPhilipSim) December 29, 2020
Meanwhile, in the UK parliament, Labour will join Conservatives in voting for the Brexit deal, while SNP, Lib Dem, DUP, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, Alliance and Green MPs intend to vote against. At least 20 Labour MPs are expected to defy the whip.
The UK government plans for the European Union (future relationship) bill to be introduced to the House of Commons and receive Royal Assent on the same day, which is unusual. MPs will likely have five hours to debate all stages of the bill.