Brexit process should be ‘suspended’, SNP says
The operation to withdraw from the EU should be paused, the SNP has said.
The suggestion comes amid continuing speculation that Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement will not attract a majority during a crucial vote in the Commons next week.
The SNP’s leader at Westminster, Ian Blackford, said he wanted to “make sure we can suspend the Article 50 process”.
The position is predicated on his support for an amendment tabled by Labour MP Hilary Benn, which rules out both the prime minister’s deal, and leaving the EU without an agreement.
In such a situation, Mr Blackford said, it was “common sense that you need to make sure that there is time for a new proposal to be put forward in parliament”.
He added: “That means we have to postpone Article 50.
“The European Union recognises that there’s a possibility of that coming. Let’s take the risks off the table.”
To suspend the Article 50 process, a Commons amendment would need to be brought forward before Sunday 9 December – just two days before MPs vote on Mrs May’s deal.
Mr Blackford said his party was far from alone in promoting such a scenario, saying: “There are members of parliament across the chamber that have said to me they will support that proposition.”
He is expecting SNP MPs to “put their name to (Mr Benn’s) amendment and I am calling on all members of parliament to consider backing that”, he told BBC Scotland.
Labour, meanwhile, has said it is “inevitable” the party will seek to oust Theresa May if she loses next Tuesday’s vote.
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, speaking on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday, said that if MPs declined to support her deal, then it was “right that there should be a general election”.
Sir Keir also confirmed he would work with other parties to start proceedings for contempt of parliament unless the government published its legal advice on Brexit in full.
Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis, also appearing on Sophy Ridge on Sunday, insisted the prime minister’s deal was the “only option”, saying: “Plan B is plan A – it’s to get this deal agreed.”