Scotland politics

SNP's Ian Blackford urges MPs to block Brexit deal

Ian Blackford
Image caption Ian Blackford said that under any scenario, people were going to be poorer and lose their jobs

MPs must take control of the House of Commons and ensure that a no-deal Brexit is avoided, the SNP's Westminster leader has said.

Politicians are due to vote on the Brexit deal at Westminster on Tuesday.

Ian Blackford told the BBC's Sunday Politics Scotland that Prime Minister Theresa May should not portray her deal as being the only route to avoiding leaving the EU without a deal in place.

The government has made a fresh plea to MPs to get behind the deal.

Mrs May has warned of a "catastrophic" breach of trust if Brexit is thwarted.

'Going to be painful'

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has suggested that Labour would table a motion of no confidence in the government if, as expected, the prime minister's deal fails to gain enough votes to pass but he has refused to be drawn on the timing of that.

Mr Blackford told the BBC programme: "I think everyone now knows that there is no such thing as a 'good Brexit', there's no such thing as a 'jobs-first Brexit', as some have claimed.

"Under any scenario, people are going to be poorer, people are going to lose their jobs.

"As politicians, we've got a responsibility to have a conversation with everybody that we now know that Brexit is going to be painful."

He added: "I would like the House of Commons now to take control because the prime minister has failed to give leadership.

"The prime minister's got to stop threatening parliament and indeed, threatening the whole of the United Kingdom, that it's a choice between her deal and no deal - that's not the case.

"There are other options that are open to us and parliament has to make sure that it takes the necessary action to protect the interests of all of us."

Image caption Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay declined to say whether the government had a Brexit "plan B" lined up

The SNP, along with the Liberal Democrats and the Greens has indicated its support for holding another referendum on leaving the EU, a proposal also backed by several MPs from the Conservatives and Labour.

Mr Blackford said that revoking Article 50, which sets a deadline of 29 March for the date of departure, and holding another referendum would be the most sensible option for moving forward.

"I think the sensible thing to do now is to put this back to the people, let's have a People's Vote," he said.

"We'll have a much more informed debate than was the case in 2016 - we had a slogan on the side of a bus - and I think it's only right, now that we know what the consequences of Brexit will be, that we allow the people to determine what they want. That's the right thing to do.

"We've got to take responsibility, I think we've got to act in all our interests and that's what we will be doing.

"The SNP will work with others to make sure that we can find a way through this".

General election

Mr Corbyn has said his party wants to have a general election, a possibility Mr Blackford said the SNP would be prepared for.

"I would love a general election because that would allow us to give a very clear statement to the Tory government as to where we're standing," he said.

"If there is a general election, I would welcome that and I welcome the opportunity to campaign in the streets of Scotland if that is the case".

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told the BBC's Andrew Marr show: "There are lots of different plans being put forward by members of parliament that don't respect the result or risk no deal."

Pressed on what happens if the deal is defeated, Mr Barclay said he suspected the Commons would support something "along the lines of this deal" but declined to speculate on whether the government had a Brexit "plan B" lined up.

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On Monday the debate on the meaningful vote on Mrs May's deal will resume for a fourth day.

The vote had been scheduled to take place in December but was called off at the last minute by the prime minister, who was facing almost certain defeat.

Last week the government was defeated twice in the Commons on Brexit votes.

In the first, MPs backed an amendment aimed at making it more difficult to leave the EU without a deal.

While in the second they voted for the government to come back to the Commons with a plan B for Brexit within three days should it lose Tuesday's vote.

More than 100 Conservatives and 10 DUP MPs are among those set to oppose the government's deal on Tuesday.

Labour is also set to vote against the deal, but leader Jeremy Corbyn has resisted growing calls from within his own party to get behind another EU referendum, insisting a general election is still his top priority if the deal is rejected.

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