The SNP has urged Labour to stop “dodging its responsibilities” and join opposition parties in calling for an urgent U-turn to extend the Brexit transition period.
As the Tory government’s Brexit talks continue to stall, Dr Philippa Whitford MP said the likelihood of a devastating bad deal or no-deal Brexit was increasing by the day – and Labour would not be forgiven if it chooses to “sit back and watch” while people’s jobs and livelihoods are on the line.
The SNP’s Brexit spokesperson said Keir Starmer was failing to show leadership on the issue by pursuing a “continuity Corbyn” fence-sitting approach to the Brexit talks – and was ignoring the views of his party members in Scotland, Wales and the Shadow Cabinet.
On Friday, a report on Labour’s election defeat warned “Labour cannot ignore the issue of Europe”.
The party lost all but one MP in Scotland at the general election, and has trailed in a distant third place in Westminster and Holyrood voting intentions since Keir Starmer took over as leader.
Polls show the majority of people support an extension to the transition period.
A survey by Focaldata found eighty-three per cent (83%) of people in Scotland and seventy-seven per cent (77%) across Britain say the UK government should agree to an extension.
Scottish Government analysis has revealed that ending the transition period in 2020 could cut £3 billion from the Scottish economy in just two years – on top of the impact of coronavirus.
The CBI has warned a no-deal would block an economic recovery in the UK, and the IMF has warned it could wipe a further 3.5% off UK GDP.
Commenting, SNP Brexit spokesperson Dr Philippa Whitford MP said:
“The Tory government is taking the UK towards a Brexit disaster, which would cause lasting damage to jobs, living standards and the economy – and yet Labour is nowhere to be seen.
“With the threat of a devastating bad deal or no-deal outcome growing by the day, it’s vital that all of us who care about protecting people’s livelihoods call on Boris Johnson to make an urgent U-turn and extend the transition period before it is too late.
“Keir Starmer must come off the fence and show some leadership.
“This continuity Corbyn approach of staying neutral on the Brexit talks isn’t good enough.
“Labour will not be forgiven if it chooses to sit back and watch as the threat to our economy grows.
“By failing to provide any alternative to Boris Johnson’s extreme Brexit plans and refusing to back calls for an extension, Labour will be just as responsible as the Tories for the damage done.
“It’s time for Labour to stop dodging its responsibilities and start standing up for people’s jobs.
“Starmer doesn’t appear to have learned any lessons from Labour’s election defeat in Scotland.
“He is repeating the same mistakes all over again by choosing to remain neutral on Tory Brexit plans and seeking to deny the people of Scotland a choice over our future.
“It’s no wonder that while support for independence is at an all-time high, Labour continues to slide into irrelevance in a distant third place under Starmer.
“Scotland has been completely ignored by Westminster throughout the Brexit process.
“The SNP will continue to press for an extension to the transition period but it is clearer than ever that the only way to protect our economic interests is to remain at the heart of Europe as an independent country.”