DeidreBrock – MP for Edinburgh North and Leith


Posted by in August's Magazine

So, erm, Brexit! I’m not gonna go over all the huffing and puffing and straining and striving that’s been going on, and I’m not gonna rehash all the debates. What is worth saying is that no-one seemed to be planning for what might happen after a leave vote – including those who have been digging tunnels and telling us we needed to escape for years.

I seemed to be just about the only MP who was asking Parliamentary Questions before June about what would happen if there was a Brexit vote and I seem to be one of the few MPs who have been asking about what the implications are. The answers I got from the UK Government before and after are similar – they say “we don’t know, nobody knows, we’ll tell you later.”

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In Edinburgh, Nicola Sturgeon was out of the blocks first thing in the morning after the vote and she must have been up in the wee hours of the morning writing the speech she gave early doors before taking questions for half an hour. In London, David Cameron resigned, George Osborne went into hiding for three days and Boris Johnson said “oops!”

The new Prime Minister, Theresa May, cleared the decks in Whitehall and, to give them credit (something I’m not going to do often), her new Ministers seem at least willing to involve the Scottish Government in the negotiations. We’ll see how they live up to the pledge in good time but, in the meantime, let’s take them at their word and see if they support Nicola in what she’s doing just now to engage the EU on Scotland’s behalf.

For my part I’ll keep asking the UK Government what they’re doing and what they’re going to do. I’ve been asking questions about the environmental protections that the EU created and how we’ll continue to protect our environment, about food standards and maintaining traceability of foods across Europe when we leave the EU, about money laundering, policing and judicial cooperation under Schengen, fisheries, research funding and so on. I’m going to continue to ask and try to get some clarity – if you want to read the answers you can find them all on the UK Parliament website – go to: www.parliament.uk/business/publications/ and click on ‘Written Questions and Answers’, put my name in and all my recent questions will come up.

In the meantime, though, there are people who will be worried about what Brexit means on a far more immediate and personal level. People who have relatives and friends who live elsewhere in the EU, to be sure, but also people from elsewhere in the EU who have moved here and now worry about what it means for them. We don’t really know yet, but we do have some idea; there’s a government statement on it, made in July. In part, it says:

…‘EU nationals who have lived continuously and lawfully in the UK for at least 5 years automatically have a permanent right to reside. This means that they have a right to live in the UK permanently, in accordance with EU law. There is no requirement to register for documentation to confirm this status…EU nationals who have lived continuously and lawfully in the UK for at least 6 years are eligible to apply for British citizenship if they would like to do so’.

It doesn’t answer all of the questions and it doesn’t say that this will remain the case after Brexit but it does explain the current position a little. You can read the full statement on the UK Government’s website: www.gov.uk/government/news/statement-the-status-of-eu-nationals-in-the-uk

I think that the people who have come to Scotland from the EU and made this their home have made an enormous contribution to our country and our economy. They’ve created businesses and jobs, they’ve enlivened our communities and they make our culture a little more fun and varied. I want them to be able to stay here and to keep making their contributions to our nation – just as many generations of immigrants did before them – so I’ll keep working towards a solution that will allow that.

I’ll also keep supporting Nicola in what she’s doing to try to get us a clear way forward and a deal that will allow us the benefits of the European Union. It’s not going to be easy, it’s not a quick and dirty easy to do deal, it’s a slog and a long hard grind and it’s going to be exhausting; it’s diplomacy that can’t be rushed.
I think we’re going to see interesting, if bumpy, times in the next wee while. We’re going to need each other wherever we are and however we voted in June. I hope we’ll all help each other on this journey.

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