WATCH: First round of IndyRef2? May and Robertson clash on Scotland and Article 50 at PMQs

'The PM can wag her finger as much as she likes'


Theresa May and Angus Robertson squared off on the prospect of a second referendum on Scottish independence at today’s Prime Minister’s Questions, in the first direct confrontation between the government and the SNP since First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s speech on Monday.

Robertson, the Scottish National Party leader in Westminster, began with a parting shot at the PM’s ‘screeching, embarrassing U-turn’ on a National Insurance hike for the self-employed.

He then turned to Scotland, Article 50 and Brexit. Here’s the whole exchange, one that provides a glimpse of coming debates over Scotland’s future.

Robertson: ‘Only days remain until the PM is going to invoke Article 50 on leaving the European Union and last July she promised to secure a UK-wide approach, an agreement between the devolved administrations… and the UK government before triggering Article 50. When will the PM announce the details of the agreement?’

May: ‘We will trigger Article 50 by the end of March, there will be an opportunity for further discussions with the devolved administrations over that period – but when the Right Honourable Gentleman looks at membership of the EU, I say this to him.

He is comparing membership of an organisation we’ve been a member of for 40 years with our country. We have been one country for over 300 years.

We’ve fought together, we’ve worked together, we’ve achieved together and constitutional game-playing should not be allowed to break the deep bonds of our shared history and our future together.’

Robertson: ‘The PM can wag her finger as much as she likes. Last year she made a promise; she promised an agreement. I asked her about it yesterday, she didn’t answer; I asked her about it now, she hasn’t answered.

When will she reach an agreement with the Scottish Government before triggering Article 50? She has another opportunity…’ [Speaker intervenes over noisy MPs heckling]

‘If she does not secure an agreement before triggering Article 50, if she is not willing to negotiate on behalf of the Scottish Government and secure membership of the single European market, people in Scotland will have a referendum and we will have our say!’

May: ‘We have been in discussions with the Scottish government and with the other devolved administrations about the interests they have as we prepare as the UK government to negotiate a deal on behalf of the UK – a deal which will be a good deal not just for England, Wales and NI but for the people of Scotland as well and as we go forward I think the Right Honourable Gentleman should remember this.

Scotland will be leaving the European Union. It will leave the European Union either as a member of the UK or with independence it’s very clear from the Barroso document [sic] it would not be a member of the European Union. 

What we need now is to unite, to come together as a country, and to ensure that we can get the best deal for the whole of the United Kingdom.’

Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13 

See: What is Scotland thinking? These three graphs provide a clue

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