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Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara has released a letter to constituents explaining why he plans to vote against Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement on Tuesday December 11.
Mr O’Hara wrote: ‘Short of deciding on military action, I cannot think of another parliamentary vote that has carried so much responsibility as the meaningful vote we will have on the government’s Withdrawal Agreement on December 11.
‘Not only will this vote determine the direction the United Kingdom takes for generations to come but will also, in the absence of independence, dictate the road Scotland will be taken down, whether we like it or not.
‘I get the sense that the people of Argyll and Bute understand the significance of this vote, as never before in my three and a half years of being your MP have I received such a volume of correspondence on the one issue. Incidentally, the vast majority urging me to vote against the Withdrawal Agreement.
‘In the end, having digested the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration that followed, I have concluded that not only would this be a bad deal for Scotland but it would be potentially disastrous for Argyll and Bute and therefore, I cannot support it.
‘Scotland voted overwhelming to Remain in the EU. Argyll and Bute voted overwhelmingly to Remain in the EU, yet this agreement would, I believe, make us poorer by placing us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our near neighbours in Northern Ireland in terms of attracting jobs and investment. And while I agree that the Good Friday Agreement must be protected, that cannot come at the expense of the Scottish economy and Scottish jobs.
‘Scotland and the people of Argyll and Bute deserve so much better than the “take it or leave it” on offer from a Prime Minister who for the past two years has told us repeatedly that a “no deal is better than a bad deal”.
‘Yet what we will be asked to vote on at Westminster next week is exactly that: a bad deal … a very bad deal.
‘Because any deal that puts Scotland at a competitive disadvantage compared to Northern Ireland, is a “bad deal”.
‘Any deal that doesn’t fundamentally reform but simply rebrands the Common Fisheries Policy, is a “bad deal”.
‘And even I, as an ardent Remainer and a supporter of a People’s Vote, can see that any deal which leaves the UK in but not in the EU, and out but not out of the EU is a “bad deal”.
‘But this isn’t just the “take it or leave it” situation the Prime Minister claims it to be because if MPs vote down this proposal, I believe there is time to secure a far better deal; a deal one that keeps us in the single market and the customs union, at the very least and one which does not leave Scotland at a competitive disadvantage.
‘That is why I will vote against this deal when it comes before Westminster next week.
‘Of course, this isn’t the future we were promised back in 2014 when we were told that only by voting No in the Scottish independence referendum, would we be able to retain our EU citizenship.
‘No one was told when they voted No back in 2014 that they would be giving a green-light to Scotland being put at a competitive disadvantage, compared to other parts of the UK.
‘And did anyone who opted to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom in 2014, really sign up for Scotland to be treated so contemptuously as to be dragged out of the EU against our will by a government and a Prime Minister we didn’t vote for?
‘That is why Scotland’s Parliament needs the full powers that every other normal, independent parliament has; not just so we can stop and reverse this Brexit chaos but to ensure that never again will Scotland be reduced to being a passive bystander while things are done to it and for it by government’s we have rejected.’