Cleverly uses Brexit jibe to poke fun at Scottish independence

James Cleverly mocks SNP over ‘extricating from unions’

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Foreign Secretary James Cleverly today openly mocked Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish nationalist MPs who tried to portay Brexit as a disaster. The senior minister laughed as an SNP MP challenged him over Brexit and warned him that separating from a 300 year old union like the UK would be much harder.

The exchanges came in foreign affairs questions in the Commons today as the UK marked three years since leaving the EU.

Gordon SNP MP Richard Thompson used the anniversary to make a dig at the Foreign Secretary who campaigned for Brexit in 2016.

He said: “It is quite remarkable, is it not, that three years after the exit from the European Union, this Government are still in protracted negotiations—not just with the EU, but with themselves—about the terms on which we are finally going to get Brexit done.

“With today’s publication of a report by the International Monetary Fund showing not only that the size of the UK economy will shrink over the coming 12 months, but that it will perform more poorly than major competitor economies, can the Secretary of State tell us whether there is a single aspect of prosperity or standing in the world he can think of that has been enhanced in any way by the terms on which we have left?”

Mr Cleverly admitted that Brexit had been “tricky” but then turned his fire on Ms Sturgeon’s plans to take Scotland out of the UK.

He said: “I would just mildly make the point that if he thinks that is tough, imagine what extricating Scotland from one of the longest and most successful Unions in human history would be like.

“I have absolutely no doubt that our good, professional and strong working relationship with Maroš Šefčovič and his officials and other members of the European Commission will ultimately be successfully. However, I would strongly urge him to learn lessons when it comes to the ease with which one can extricate oneself from Unions, whether they be European or [any other].”

SNP foreign affairs spokesman Alyn Smith, a former MEP, was up next but also got short shrift from the Foreign Secretary.

The question had been on passporting for financial services to the EU, an important next step with trade with the contenent which had been a problem for some sectors while the UK was still in the EU.

Mr Cleverly said: “Reinforcing the point I made to the hon. Member for Gordon (Richard Thomson), I think that the pipe dream about the ease with which a Scotland separated from the UK could join the EU requires a bit closer analysis, and what Scotland would do for money, and to bring the budget deficit in line with the membership criteria of the EU, would be interesting.

“We will, of course, ensure that the UK financial services sector remains internationally competitive.”

The SNP’s plan is to remove Scotland from the UK and try to rejoin the EU but this was thwarted last year when the Supreme Court said that the Scottish Parliament does not have the right to call a referendum on independence.


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