Scotland politics

Where do the Scottish Tory MPs stand on the Brexit deal?

Ruth Davidson and MPs
Image caption The 13 Scottish Conservative MPs with party leader Ruth Davidson

The prime minister's draft plan for Brexit has highlighted divisions within her party over Europe. How are Scottish Conservative MPs lining up on the issue?

When Theresa May first announced that a draft deal had been done over Brexit, the Scottish Conservative group of 13 MPs acted as one, writing her a letter warning her that they could not back her unless promises made to the fishing industry were fulfilled.

Since then however, the group has divided into three broad camps - those who have thrown themselves behind the plan, those who oppose it outright, and those who are still thinking about it.

Backing the deal

Image copyright PA
Image caption After initial speculation he might quit, David Mundell has come down in favour of the deal

Scottish Secretary David Mundell was briefly rumoured to be flirting with resignation over the proposals, but has now come down firmly behind the prime minister.

The longest-serving MP of the group, Mr Mundell said the deal was "not as bad" as some had claimed, pointing to "positive elements" around the rights of EU citizens and trade - and warning that an exit without a deal would be "catastrophic".

He said: "I'm supporting the deal because I believe a 'no deal' outcome would be catastrophic for Scotland. I believe it would be a fundamental threat to the continuation of the United Kingdom and therefore in the round you have to weigh up all the issues.

"These are difficult and complex judgements but I'm not prepared to countenance a no deal outcome for Scotland."

Andrew Bowie, who campaigned alongside Mrs May in his Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine constituency in 2017, has also come down behind the deal.

He said it was "time to unite behind [Mrs May] and deliver Brexit", adding that he "fully respects all those in my own party that disagree from points of principle".

Seeking assurances

Image caption Conservative MP Kirstene Hair wants reassurance over fishing and the backstop before she can commit to voting for the draft agreement

Most members of the group are taking their time to make their minds up, and are seeking further assurances from Downing Street about what the deal might mean.

Angus MP Kirstene Hair told the BBC's Sunday Politics Scotland programme that she wanted more information about the Northern Ireland backstop and plans for fishing.

She said: "It is only right MPs, who are essentially making one of the biggest decisions they will ever make as an MP outwith deciding going to war, must take the time to get the detail of this deal correct and be reassured we can indeed vote for it.

"It is quite irresponsible of people to come to a decision within almost minutes or hours of that deal being released because what we need to do is look through it line-by-line to ensure we are happy with it because this is the biggest decision we will make as members of parliament."

Image caption Paul Masterton has argued that the decision is not one to be taken lightly

East Renfrewshire's Paul Masterton is also in this camp, saying he will not be "rushed, bounced or forced into reaching a position", and that "a decision of this magnitude" deserves to be "properly thought through".

He said he is "not in a position to state that I will be supporting the deal" at present, but that he is taking time to "understand the practical reality and real-world implications".

In a blog post, he said he had a "number of concerns" about the fallback plans for Northern Ireland and the "real lack of detail" over the future relationship between the UK and the EU.

Others in this position include John Lamont (Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk), David Duguid (Banff and Buchan) and Colin Clark (Gordon), who said the group's support for the prime minister was "dependant on [her] approach to fishing and the union".

A number of other MPs have remained fairly tight-lipped on the issue, and so for now can probably be said to fall into this undecided camp too.

Outright opposition

Image caption As an MSP, Ross Thomson was one of the leading voices of the Leave campaign in Scotland

Aberdeen South MP Ross Thomson, who campaigned for Brexit ahead of the referendum, has been the most vocal opponent in the group of Mrs May's plans.

He said he could not "in all good conscience support the prime minister's draft withdrawal agreement", saying this was "because I am a unionist first and foremost".

Writing in the Express newspaper, Mr Thomson said: "The deal includes a backstop that would mean hiving off Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK through a separate regulatory regime. No unionist can support a plan that gives Brussels more say over trade and rules in Northern Ireland than the UK parliament.

"The prime minister's plan also falls far short on what we have been promised in relation to fishing."

Mr Ross has also made his position clear to the rest of the group, urging Mr Mundell to resign from the cabinet in a WhatsApp message.

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