A Week in Parliament

Brexit Comings and Goings

One of the latest proposals to get the DUP on board is for them to be involved in future trade deals. This is another U-turn and concession to the DUP – when I was on the Trade Bill Committee, one of the SNP asks was for the Scottish Government to have a say/final agreement on trade deals. This was voted down by the Conservatives and also the Labour front bencher leading on the bill, Barry Gardiner, also refused to back our amendment. His attitude was that trade deals should be left to Westminster and the Scottish Government had no right to have “a veto” ie leave it to the big boys and girls. That’s  “our place” in the union of equals. It is also an eye opener the leverage the DUP have compared to the 13 Scottish Tories. Also, despite claiming not to want Northern Ireland to be differently the DUP actually demand a whole load of differentials.


We are still told the UK Government is prepared for a No Deal Brexit, although they now seem to admit that even to facilitate an agreed “deal” they need an extension of the Article 50 timetable. So if they need an extension to facilitate an agreement, then surely this means by default they cannot possibly be ready for the No Deal scenario? Legislation wise, there are major pieces of legislation still to be passed – the Trade Bill, Agriculture Bill, Fisheries Bill, Environmental Bill and Immigration Bill to name a few. Then there are all the outstanding statutory instruments so it is clear they are not at all ready for the different scenarios.

Ferry contracts

The latest on the ferry contract saga, is that the two main contractors expect around £30m compensation if the possible no deal Brexit is shunted down the line. They claim they have had to order extra fuel, and have changed timetables in advance of March 29th. Chris Grayling the Transport Secretary on the other hand consistently told us the UK Government were only making provision for extra sailings and if not required, money would not change hands. His incompetence simply knows no limits. The only successful thing he has done was to run Teresa May’s leadership bid for the Tory party. So in effect the complete lack of leadership at the top can also be attributed to him! It can only be co-incidence that someone who was close to the Prime Minster keeps his job despite so many disasters.

Local Visits

Away from the shambles of Westminster, the best part of my job is definitely visiting local organisations and businesses. Recently I visited UCan, who do inspirational work for people with learning disabilities; attended a Hillhouse supporters event, where I got to meet the hardworking staff and those local companies who provide support for the charity. I was also delighted to meet Dean, who runs Above Adventure, and by co-incidence just after our meeting got confirmation of £2m Scottish Government funding to allow the completion of the climbing facility at Woodstock Street. Fantastic news and well done to all involved.

These views were first expressed in the Kilmarnock Standard