Crushing Deafeat For PM Must Pave Way For Second EU Referendum, Sturgeon Demands
16 January 2019, 07:21
Nicola Sturgeon has insisted a second European referendum is now the "only credible option" after Theresa May's proposed Brexit deal suffered a humiliating defeat.
The Scottish First Minister also demanded the PM stop the clock on Article 50 to "avoid any possibility of the UK crashing out of the EU on March 29 without a deal".
With Labour's Jeremy Corbyn tabling a motion of no confidence after the Government suffered the largest Commons defeat in modern history - the proposed withdrawal deal was rejected by 432 votes to 202 - Ms Sturgeon confirmed SNP MPs at Westminster would support that.
The First Minister said: "The SNP supports the tabled vote of no confidence in the Government - but regardless of who leads the government, the reality is that a second EU referendum, with the option of remain on the ballot paper, is now the only credible option to avoid untold damage to the economy and the prospects of future generations.
"It is also the only option, within the UK, that would allow Scotland's democratic wish to remain in Europe to be respected."
Ms Sturgeon made no mention of the prospect of a second independence referendum, but has previously said this must remain on the table to allow Scotland's vote to remain in the European Union in 2016 to be "respected".
Meanwhile, Scottish Green co-convener Patrick Harvie hit out: "Throughout the process Scotland, and all remain voters, have been treated with utter contempt.
"It is surely only a matter of time before we finally decide that Scotland too must 'take back control' from the shambles that is government from Westminster, and set ourselves on a path to full independent membership of the EU."
Scottish Secretary David Mundell, who voted for the deal, conceded the result was "very disappointing".
But he said Mrs May had made clear "she will listen to the House and reach out across Parliament to try to find a way forward to deliver an orderly #Brexit".
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said, however, that Mrs May's "deal is in tatters" along with "her credibility".
He called for a so-called People's Vote after Mrs May suffered a "historic and devastating defeat".
Meanwhile, shadow Scottish secretary Lesley Laird said the huge defeat "confirms what we already knew - that Theresa May's deal is bad for Scotland and bad for the UK".
The Labour MP added: "The Prime Minister has lost all authority and there is a clear need for a general election to break the deadlock."
Ms Sturgeon however argued there was "no more time to waste" as she called again for the Article 50 withdrawal process to be halted.
She said: "After two-and-a half years of Westminster chaos, Scotland must not be ignored any longer. Our place in Europe must be protected.
"It has been crystal clear for months that the Prime Minister's approach was heading for a crushing defeat.
"Instead of facing up to that fact, she wasted valuable time with her postponement of the meaningful vote in December. There is no more time to waste."
Ms Sturgeon stated: "What must happen now is clear. Firstly, and most urgently, the clock must be stopped on the Article 50 process. This is the only way to avoid any possibility of the UK crashing out of the EU on March 29 without a deal.
"Secondly, legislation must be brought forward to put this issue back to the electorate in another referendum.
"The Government has had more than two-and-a-half years to deliver a workable Brexit plan and it has completely failed to do so. The notion that it can do so now in a matter of weeks is farcical."
Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw however insisted that Mrs May's Withdrawal Agreement was still the "only substantial deal on the table".
The Tory said: "This is not the time to walk away, it is the time to work harder so that we can find a way forward over the coming days.
"Those MPs who opposed the deal this evening should now set out, quite specifically, how their own alternatives might work, how they would respect the referendum, and how they will secure a majority in Parliament."
He added: "Theresa May will now continue to work to achieve the best way to deliver a withdrawal plan which commands support and I and the Scottish Conservatives continue to back her as she does."
Scottish Tory MP and Brexiteer Ross Thomson voted against the Prime Minister, saying he "could not in good conscience vote for a deal that treats Northern Ireland as a foreign country and in my view genuinely risks the integrity of the UK".
But other Scottish Conservatives expressed their disappointment in the result - saying the defeat could lead to a no-deal Brexit, or a second referendum.
David Duguid, who ousted Alex Salmond from the Banff and Buchan seat in 2015, stated: "Without this deal, or something like it, I am concerned that some members will go against the will of the UK people and attempt to stop Brexit."
Meanwhile, Angus MP Kirstene Hair said: "I voted in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement, despite some misgivings, because it is the right thing to do. There is not going to be a perfect deal.
"The result this evening has now left the door open to a second referendum, or a no-deal Brexit. It will also pile more uncertainty on businesses, who simply want clarity on what happens next."