Ian Blackford calls on Scottish Labour MPs to reject May’s Brexit deal

The leader of the SNP group at Westminster has called on Scottish Labour MPs to reject the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal and rule out support for any plan by Jeremy Corbyn to help it over the line.

In a letter to the seven Scottish Labour MPs, Ian Blackford claimed that supporting Mr Corbyn’s proposed Brexit plans would serve a “devastating blow” to communities across Scotland.

But shadow Scottish Secretary Lesley Laird accused Mr Blackford of “outright fabrication and political opportunism” over his claims about Labour’s Brexit policy.

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Yesterday, Theresa May called for Brexit talks with Labour “as soon as possible” - while resisting Jeremy Corbyn’s demands for a full customs union with the EU but leaving the door open to cooperation between the two parties in search of a breakthrough.

Mr Blackford claimed that supporting Labour's proposed Brexit plans would serve a devastating blow to communities across Scotland

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In his letter to Scottish Labour MPs, Mr Blackford said: “We are less than 50 days away from Brexit date and in Westminster both the Prime Minister and Leader of the so-called Opposition are leading Scotland and the UK hand in hand off the Brexit cliff-edge.

“By 2030, under a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) – the closest proxy for the Prime Minister’s proposal – GDP would be around £9 billion lower than if we stayed in the EU, equivalent to £1,600 per person in Scotland than if we remained in the EU.

“That is a price that Scotland should not be forced to pay. When the Prime Minister returns to Parliament with her deal, Scottish Labour MPs must stand up for Scotland’s economic and social interests, and reject the Prime Minister’s deal and Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to throw his support behind it.

“It is alarming that, despite the overwhelming damage that the Prime Minister’s deal will cause to Scotland, the Labour Leader would seek to support the deal. Scotland did not vote for Brexit and our nation must not be dragged out of the EU against our will.”

In her response, Ms Laird wrote: “Jeremy Corbyn’s letter to the Prime Minister this week makes clear our unequivocal opposition to a no-deal Brexit, the Prime Minister’s current deal or any tweaked version of it, a CETA style deal or any deal that could lead to a hard border in Northern Ireland. To suggest otherwise, and that we are somehow enabling a Tory Brexit, is not just disingenuous it is an outright fabrication and political opportunism of the worst kind. Not the first time, given your recent inappropriate language on the Northern Ireland backstop.

“Our proposals provide a constructive way out of this mess, respect democracy and offer a comprehensive set of negotiating objectives that could command a majority in the House of Commons.

“Brexit presents many challenges for Scotland and the UK. The decisions that we make in the next few weeks will have a profound impact on our constituents for many years to come. Labour is, just as we have always done, seeking constructive solutions that unite people rather than foster further division. It beggars belief that you would prefer to indulge in brazen political posturing, aiming your fire at Labour as a constructive opposition, rather than the shambolic Tories.”