A Week in Parliament

Labour and the EU Withdrawal Bill

So we had several amendments to vote on the EU Withdrawal Bill. I listened to a 3 panel interview on Radio Scotland not long before voting would commence. Labour’s Paul Sweeney stated that Labour was leading the way (!) on the key issues and gave an example of his colleague Yvette Copper’s amendment. When it came to vote on their colleague’s amendment, backed by the Labour front bench, 14 Labour MPs and 2 former Labour MPs who have lost the whip voted against it. As the margin of defeat was 20, then just 11 of these MPs voting the other way would have defeated the Government. A key aspect of her amendment, one being to extend Article 50 was to allow Parliament to bring in additional bills and take back control rather it being just a Government function. That should be manna for opposition MPs. For the record all 35 SNP MPs backed that; Labour’s main amendment and also Labour’s Rachel Reeve’s amendment. Labour meanwhile abstained on the SNP amendment.

Brady Amendment

The PM said her deal was all that could be agreed with the EU. Then she whips her MPs to vote for an amendment that actually tears up her own agreement! An amendment that the EU say won’t work. Utter incompetence!

Immigration Bill and Labour

One piece of legislation the Tories have managed to get through parliament is the Immigration Bill – aimed at stopping free movement of people (which will ultimately harm any of our family members who want to travel and work abroad in the UK). It also sets unrealistic bars on the amount of income migrants have to have before being accepted. This earning threshold has already affected many of my constituents, and it is really difficult for people married to a non UK citizen to suddenly find their spouse is not welcome in the UK. With lower wages than many other parts of the UK, Scotland is affected once more by the London and South East England view that dominates UK Government.

We know immigration is a Tory obsession, but what of the Labour party, and Jeremy Corbyn? After their front bench spokesperson set out all that was wrong with the bill, but they were not going to vote against it. What?! After an internal backlash and absolute disbelief they put a one line whip on it, which really means, “vote if you can be bothered”. The bill passed by 65 votes but with 80 Labour MPs not voting, there was a possibility of a Government defeat or at the very least making the Government work to get it through. The clear message was that Labour do not actually care about EU citizens and freedom of movement. Given my wife, Cyndi is an EU national and I have several cases where EU citizens are already caught up in the UKs “hostile environment” then I take real umbrage to Labour’s lack of opposition.

It is clear that neither of the two main parties at Westminster are fit to govern. Surely Scotland has better options?

These views were first expressed in the Kilmarnock Standard.