Brexit: SNP MPs to vote against trade deal which is ‘disaster for Scotland’

SNP MPs will vote against Boris Johnson's Brexit deal. Credit: PA

SNP MPs will vote against Boris Johnson's Brexit deal when it comes before the Commons, Westminster leader Ian Blackford has revealed, but Labour will vote for the deal.

Mr Blackford has branded it a "disaster for Scotland" and was an “unforgivable act of economic vandalism and gross stupidity”.

SNP leader and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already accused the Conservatives of having “sold out Scottish fishing all over again” in the Brexit treaty.

She tweeted the Brexit will still pass in the House of Commons "regardless of how the SNP votes" but said it was "far better...for our MPs to cast a principled vote against Brexit" as they continue their case for independence.

But Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary, insisted it would deliver for all parts of the UK, as he urged all MPs from north of the border to “give it their wholehearted support”.

It will come into force after the UK’s current transition period, as it exits the EU, comes to an end on December 31.

MPs in the House of Commons will vote on the agreement on Wednesday December 30, with Mr Blackford saying: “Boris Johnson’s extreme Tory Brexit is an unforgivable act of economic vandalism and gross stupidity, which will cause lasting damage to the economy and leave the UK much worse off at the worst possible time – during a pandemic and economic recession.”

The SNP Westminster leader called it a “very bad deal for Scotland” and said "Scotland has been completely ignored by Westminster throughout the Brexit process."

The Scottish Government has estimated the Brexit deal that has been agreed could cost Scotland’s economy more than £9 billion by 2030, compared to staying in the EU, with the forecast 6.1% drop in GDP the equivalent to losing the equivalent of £1,600 per person.

But the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has ordered his MPs to back the agreement, arguing that despite its problems it is far better than the alternative outcome of a chaotic no-deal.

It is highly likely the trade deal will pass through the House of Commons, as the prime minister holds an 80-seat majority in the Commons, and has the backing of the opposition.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson touted post-Brexit changes to business taxes and regulation as new opportunities when the UK begins its new relationship with the EU next year. In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, the prime minister suggested many plans had been kept under wraps with the potential they could derail talks. “A great government effort has gone into compiling these and we haven’t necessarily wanted to talk about them much during this period because that perhaps would not have been fruitful,” he said. “What I say to my colleagues is free ports, yes, free trade deals, fantastic, changing animal welfare regulations, great, new stuff on data or chemicals, let’s have a look at it all.”

Michel Barnier has been the lead EU negotiator on Brexit. Credit: PA

The prime minister said that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is “doing a big exercise on all of this” in regards to business taxes and regulation. The deal contains commitments not to regress on standards for workers’ rights and environmental standards, which is a bone of contention for some Brexiteers. Speaking on Sunday, Mr Sunak said the Christmas Eve Brexit deal could be "enormously unifying moment for our country."

The Chancellor said anyone who is worried about the economic implications of the breach with Brussels should be "enormously reassured about the comprehensive nature" of the agreement. He added that the deal gives reassurance because it provides a "stable framework".

Asked about the new trade agreement signed with the EU, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “I think this deal represents one of the most comprehensive free trade agreements ever signed and it’s a good deal for British families, businesses and jobs. “It gives us a fantastic platform to go forward, maintain tariff-free access to European markets but also capitalise on new opportunities, whether that’s signing new trade deals – and we’ve already signed, I think, 58 covering about £200 billion worth of trade with, more to come – or trying new things like free ports for example, which will create jobs, drive investment and increase trade. “So all of that is exciting to look forward to. “But in the short term, our challenge remains dealing with coronavirus, making sure that we’ve got economic support in place for British families and businesses as they go through what is a difficult winter period.”