In this week's Opposition Day debate, Antony Higginbotham MP countered the narrative of both the SNP and Labour who spent the session decrying Brexit with negativity on the level that the public has come to expect from both parties.
You can read Antony's full speech below:
In a debate about Brexit, we on the Government Benches talk about the positives. Unfortunately, all we have had from not only SNP Members but others, as we have just heard from the hon. Member for Sheffield Central (Paul Blomfield), is doom and gloom.
In a debate on Brexit today, the one thing that I would have expected to hear about from either the SNP or Labour is the actions of the European Union. We have heard today that the EU is now threatening to block vaccines. We have been successful in the vaccine roll-out because we were able to act independently and flexibly. I say that not to gloat, but because we need to inject into this debate some realism about the freedoms we have and the way in which can be agile.
Typically, those on the SNP and Labour Benches will put anything positive to do with Brexit down to something else, but we can look at other things that have proven the benefit of the agility we now have. Scotland, as an integral part of the fifth largest economy in the world, is able to look out on the horizon as part of the four nations of the UK and strike new trade deals. Just next month the Prime Minister will lead a delegation to India, and I hope that Opposition Members will join us in hoping that we can find new ways to export our products and services around the world, including to the fast-growing markets in not only India but places like Brazil and South Africa.
Let me turn to a really important sector for Scotland: the Scotch whisky sector. When we were a member of the European Union, the sector was hit with a 25% tariff and sales to the US fell by 30%—that is £0.5 billion-worth of sales. It was this Government, exercising the rights that we have as an independent trading nation, who got those tariffs removed.
We have heard about the Erasmus scheme, but I am afraid it was not all that those on the Opposition Benches like to claim it was. The Turing scheme, however, will be something we can all be proud of. It does not strip opportunities but provides them. It is global in outlook and allows young people from my constituency and in Scotland—whether they are at school, college, university or another training provider—to look at the countries where they want to go and study and take up such opportunities. Really importantly, the Turing scheme has social mobility at its heart, which I would have hoped the Opposition parties would have welcomed.
All we have heard so far in this debate is doom and gloom, but the opportunities presented by Brexit go far and wide for every corner of our United Kingdom.