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View From Scotland On Brexit


The backlash is intensifying against British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his move to suspend Parliament. The suspension means lawmakers aren't going to have as much time to debate how the U.K. will exit the European Union under Brexit. That raises the chances that British lawmakers won't be able to reach a deal before the October 31 deadline. There had been a move in Scotland to try and block the suspension, but the Scottish courts just rejected that.

Stephen Gethins is an MP for the Scottish National Party and joins us now. Good morning.

STEPHEN GETHINS: Good morning.

MARTIN: May I first just ask your reaction to the court's decision?

GETHINS: Well, the court case have taken an interim decision. I think it looks like we'll get another ruling that will be appealed. So we'll have the opportunity for another ruling next week. But this doesn't stop the fact that we have a prime minister so lacking in confidence in his own plans that he wants to suspend Parliament from sitting - stop MPs doing their jobs. And for me, we're sort of verging on to tin-pot dictatorship kind of stuff here.

MARTIN: Dictatorship - that's a big and provocative characterization. I mean, we should point out it's not unusual - right? - for a prime minister to suspend Parliament for a period of time. It's often done in the lead-up to what is known as the queen's speech, which helps the government outline new priorities.

GETHINS: Yeah, but come on. I mean, we're in a situation whereby, by everybody's reckoning, we're in a period of crisis. We - this extend - this suspension would be for much longer than the few days that you normally get in the advent of a queen's speech setting out a new legislative program.

This has been done even by a minister's own admission when he was heard off the record talking about it last night. To take us - so that Parliament cannot sit and cannot prevent us being taken out of the European Union with no deal against the will of Parliament. With Parliament having been elected - with parliamentarians like me on a mandate not - for us not to leave the EU without a deal because we know how damaging that will be to our constituents.

MARTIN: What will be the impact on Scots in particular?

GETHINS: Well, in Scotland, an independent think tank, Fraser of Allander Institute, says that in Scotland alone - and it'll be bad throughout the U.K. - 100,000 people will lose their jobs, GDP being hit by up to 9%. With medicines, of course, we're in agreement. So their European partners about - with chemicals being able to cross borders. And that means that medicine not being able to get in - food shortages.

Just think about that for a moment. Pinch yourself. Food shortages and medicine shortages in a Western, developed democracy, not because of an act of war or a natural disaster, but because of a political act and the irresponsibility of government. And I owe it to my constituents to make sure that doesn't happen.

And incidentally, it's not just the Fraser of Allander Institute, an independent think tank, looking at this - and warnings from trade unionists, doctors and companies, this is the U.K. government itself which has given these warnings that this could happen.

MARTIN: Let me ask you in the seconds remaining - Scotland in 2014 had a referendum on whether or not...


MARTIN: ...To leave the U.K. Scots said...


MARTIN: ...No, we want to stay. So is what's...


MARTIN: ...Happening with Brexit fueling another referendum on that issue?

GETHINS: Yeah, I think it is because people in Scotland were told the best way to remain a member of the EU is to remain within the U.K. I contested that. So we've been proven that the best way to take Scotland out of the EU is to remain within the U.K. We need to be the same as our European partners, like a normal member state of the European Union like Ireland, Denmark and other independent and sovereign states, to be normal in Europe.

MARTIN: Stephen Gethins is a British member of Parliament. He represents the Scottish National Party. We appreciate your time, sir. Thank you so much.

GETHINS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.