News & Articles

Some published articles and blog posts from Tommy Sheppard MP

Subcategories from this category:

Contributions, Early Day Motions, Written Questions

Their Scottish Lordships

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We are in the midst of a sustained and serious constitutional crisis. A central feature of the broken Westminster system has always been the undemocratic House of Lords. My 2019 report into the Scottish Lords lays bare the extent to which the Scottish Lords were unrepresentative of Scotland.
 
The report examines the House of Lords in the previous UK parliament and found that in every single area of analysis - covering political affiliation, constitutional aspiration, gender, age and social background - the evidence exposes the chasm which exists between peers and the democratically elected representations of Scotland.  

The report was produced ahead of the 2019 General Election and publication was delayed because of it. However, the arguments and information are current and will inform the constitutional debate in the year ahead. 

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Prime Minster's Questions

At today's PMQs I sought a commitment from Boris Johnson to consider a pilot scheme of supervised overdose prevention facilities to help tackle the drugs crisis.

He appeared to be at least open to the discussion but we need a firm commitment. The evidence is clear - he must act now.

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Business Questions

You'll have had your sovereignty people of Scotland. And it seems Jacob Rees-Mogg thinks the country of Scotland is the same as the county of Somerset. Watch a clip here and the full exchange from today's Business Questions here.

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EU Withdrawal Bill Debate

The SNP has consistently voted against Brexit. When it returned under the new Tory government, we did exactly the same again - voting against the miserable Withdrawal Agreement bill which will be terrible for the people of Scotland. Scotland's voice is being ignored. You can watch my full speech from the debate here.

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Business Questions

As SNP Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, I take part in Business Questions every Thursday morning. On my first outing I pointed out that the UK government needs to recognise that its mandate does not extend to Scotland. You can watch the exchange here.

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September News - Westminster

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Every month when I sit down to write this it amazes me how much has happened in such a short space of time. September was no different. We headed back after recess with one clear priority - to work with other parties to prevent a no-deal Brexit prior to Boris Johnson's planned shut down of parliament with a five week prorogation. One that turned out to be unlawful - but more on that later. 

The month began with what I described as a "turbulent few days". I recorded a series of videos on my social media channels as we progressed through that week. You can follow me on Facebook here and Twitter here. When events are happening quickly I often find that it's the quickest way for me to communicate with constituents. 

On the first day back (3rd Sept), an application was made for a Standing Order 24 debate to try and take control of the order paper. This was to allow the option of bringing forward emergency legislation to prevent the Prime Minister from taking the UK out of the EU without a deal. We managed to do that (the vote passed 318-301). I also spoke in the emergency debate - you can watch the video here

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The SNP, Brexit and calls for a General Election

WM-Sept-19

I've had a few emails recently from people who are asking about the SNP position regarding a general election.


While I recorded some video updates last week, 
one of the limitations of social media is that it mitigates against context and nuance, so it is not always an adequate medium to communicate one's ideas. Also, while the instant nature of social media is useful it is limited in a situation like this where events are changing hourly and policy needs to be constantly refined and updated. So, I've taken time to set out my thinking here - and hope it will help in expressing my position.

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Guest — Willie Lawrie
All of your blog presumes that Scotland will still be in the UK after the next election. What if Scotland returns a massive majori... Read More
Monday, 09 September 2019 11:45
Guest — Dennis Nicholson
The SNP should ask for a mandate to negotiate immediately for independence not for another pointless demand for a S30 order which ... Read More
Monday, 09 September 2019 16:36
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July News - Westminster

Well, where to start? With less than 100 days to go until the next Brexit deadline, Parliament has broken up for a 5 week recess and we have a new Prime Minister and Cabinet who seem hellbent on taking us out of the EU and are preparing to do so without a deal. From the moment Theresa May decided to stand down it was almost inevitable Boris Johnson would become the new PM but that didn't make it any less depressing. Prior to his announcement I made some predictions in my monthly Edinburgh Evening News column - you can read it here

The new hard-line Tory government seems determined that Scotland should be seen and not heard. At the start of the month I was refused my Freedom of Information Request to receive the results of polling by the Cabinet Office on attitudes towards the strength of the Union. You can only assume they've got something to hide. I've requested a review of the decision and you can read the full story here

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Good Morning Scotland - Drug Inquiry

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Good Morning Scotland discussed the Scottish Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into Problematic Drug Use this morning.

I was interviewed with Adam Tomkins MSP. Listen to the full interview here.

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June News - Westminster

June-19---drugs

June was a strange month. As busy as ever but with nothing happening. It seems like much is on hold while the Tory party decide who our next master is. But here are some of the things I was up to last month. 

When the EU extended our exit date to the 31st October, the message was clear: do not waste this time. Yet wasting time seems to be the aim of the game in Westminster until we know the outcome of the Tory leadership contest. There was one attempt to take control of the business of the House this month to prevent a no-deal with a Labour motion. However, once again the Labour party failed to organise itself and the despite all 35 SNP MPs voting for it, the motion was defeated 298-309.

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May News - Westminster

Drugs-inquiry

The election we didn't think would happen, did. And Edinburgh once again rejected Brexit decisively. 72% of those who voted chose to vote for a party that explicitly wants to remain in the EU - the SNP, Liberal Democrats, Greens or Change UK. And across Scotland the SNP returned the highest vote share of any party in the UK sending three MEPs to Brussels. I'll be doing all I can to ensure they get to stay there beyond October. On election day I had a column in the Edinburgh Evening News giving my take on what I thought might happen: I think it still stands.

Theresa May has, finally, resigned from office. But she hasn't gone yet. She'll leave as leader of the Conservative Party on the 7th June but remains as the Prime Minister until a new leader is selected - likely to be the end of July. In reality, I can't see how a new Prime Minister can change much in terms of the Brexit deal. The EU have been clear that they won't re-open negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement and Parliamentary arithmetic remains the same. As it stands we're due to leave the EU on 31st October with, or without a deal, and parliament must act to ensure we don't have a no deal Brexit by accident - or indeed by design given what some of the candidates are saying. 

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April News - Westminster

Greta

It's strange to think that a month ago we were due to be leaving the European Union. With the leaving date pushed back to October 31st Parliament took a short Easter recess allowing us all time in our constituencies. And now it almost seems as if no-one is even talking about Brexit. 

Of course, I am going to talk about Brexit but before I do I want to talk about the other big topic that has hit the headlines - Climate Change. About time. Protesters like Extinction Rebellion and campaigners like Greta Thunberg have managed to do something hundreds of well-penned articles in newspapers have not: put the destruction of our planet front and centre. 

Protecting the environment and preventing climate change must be a priority - it is the number one issue facing humanity. I used my latest Edinburgh Evening News column to raise the issue and I’m proud that at the SNP party conference delegates unanimously passed my resolution on climate change. You can watch my speech here. And on Sunday the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, declared a Climate Emergency making Scotland the first country to do so. It’s vital now that we follow up these words with actions. 

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March News - Westminster

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So it's April 1st. And we're still in the EU. A short reprieve but a very welcome one. It's difficult to give a concise report on what's happened this month but I'll do my best. On Friday we had another vote on the Prime Minister's Deal. It wasn't a "meaningful" one but one on the Withdrawal Agreement without the Political Declaration. Even with that compromise the result was a resounding defeat for the UK government.

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September News - Westminster

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It wasn't a surprise that we started the new parliamentary term with an Urgent Question on Brexit. However the answer I received to my question during this session was quite amazing. Raab said that the UK government's ability to consult the Scottish government will be constrained by Article 50 timetable which "is not of our choosing". Really? Who set the withdrawal date in law despite all the opposition parties arguing it would create inflexibility? Watch it here.

There's also a lot of discussion about a "People's Vote" on Europe. This month I used my Edinburgh Evening News column to set out my three tests for another referendum. You can read it here

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July News - Westminster

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It was yet another busy month in the Palace of Westminster. I started July with a Question to the Prime Minister.  For those who don't know, MPs enter a ballot to be able to ask something at PMQs. I enter every week and it really is just the luck of the draw as to if, and when, you get picked. This month I urged Theresa May to look again at the sale of Fort Kinnaird - it's simply not acceptable that Scottish taxpayers are being cheated out of £167 million from the sale of Crown Estate interests. Watch it here.

David Mundell was back in the hot seat for Scottish Office questions this month where I get to ask questions in my role as the SNP Spokesperson on the Scotland Office. This time I again focused on Brexit. The Chequers Plan completely changes the debate on joint governmental frameworks after we leave the European Union yet the Scottish Secretary confirmed he did not discuss the plan with the Scottish government beforehand. His shameful disregard for devolution continues. Watch it here

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Debate on Strengthening the Union

The UK government tabled a general debate on strengthening the union. You can watch my full speech from the debate here.

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Claim of Right Debate

In the same way that a dog isn't only for Christmas, sovereignty isn't only for the 18th of September 2014. 

You can watch my full speech from this debate here

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Urgent Question - Continuity Bill

Textbook example of a Government Minister not answering my question during Joanna Cherry's Urgent Question on the Continuity Bill. 

Westminster insisting the Scottish and Welsh Governments are subservient to them on devolved matters. That's why the Scottish government had to pass the Continuity Bill. 

It wouldn't be needed if the Tories were prepared to work in partnership.

 

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June Newsletter - Westminster

dog-collars

It can't have escaped anyone's notice that the EU Withdrawal Bill was back in Parliament this month. And it came with some significant controversy. Given the large number of amendments proposed by the Lords you could be forgiven for thinking there'd be a decent amount of time allocated for debate but that wasn't to be. You can read my bumper blog on the main two days voting and the SNP reaction here but I'll pick out a couple of key points for you. 

The way the debate was structured, combined with the archaic voting practices of Westminster meant that there was just 19 minutes allocated to the impact of Brexit on devolution. And it wasn't only about Scotland - it included Wales and the rather significant issue of the Irish border. 19 minutes and it was all taken up by the Minister.  I recorded this video diary just after the final votes that night - it's fair to say we were feeling a little scunnered by it all. 

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March Newsletter - Westminster

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The work of the Scottish Affairs committee continues apace. This month we held a further evidence session on the immigration needs of Scotland hearing from David Mundell and the Minister for Immigration, Caroline Noakes. Shockingly, the Scottish Government compares to Lincolnshire County Council in the Minister's eyes. See the short exchange on Pete Wishart's Facebook page

The SNP had two Private Members Bills this month. I had a catch up with both colleague Angus Brendan MacNeil (watch here) and Stewart McDonald (watch here) the day before. PMBs are notoriously difficult to get through Parliament so it was great news that Angus' Bill on Refugee Family Reunification has passed to the next stage. 

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Tommy's Blog Articles

Tommy Sheppard
31 January 2020
Tommys Blog
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Dear fellow Europeans I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. The UK is leaving the European Union later tonight. I’ve resisted it every step of the way but now it is really happening. Please know that this is not what the people who live in this great city want. Boris Johnson does not act in our name. We are being dragged out of Europe against our will. And we are determined that this will not be the end of the...
Tommy Sheppard
29 January 2020
Tommys Blog
With everything that goes on at Westminster it can be very easy to get caught up in the day to day minutiae of debates and votes. Sometimes we need a reminder of the bigger picture. I got that last week when I met with one of my constituents, Gica, who spent time volunteering in Samos last year.Gica volunteered with refugees and the situation she described is appalling. And worsening. The refugee ...
Tommy Sheppard
23 January 2020
Tommys Blog
Media
This week Politico reported that Number Ten are set to launch a pro-union offensive north of the border. Last week leadership contender Lisa Nandy provoked fierce criticism by saying Labour should learn from Spain’s attempts to defeat Catalan independence campaigners.Both approaches from different parts of the British political mainstream have in common a denial of the express views of voters in S...
Tommy Sheppard
03 January 2020
Tommys Blog
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Is it just me or does last month’s election already seem a long time ago? That last week in parliament was a pretty turgid affair. Self-congratulation by the tea-room Tories was matched by remorse and recrimination as Labour losers cleared lockers and desks. And then it was Christmas. There was no settling of the dust, no clarity on what the election results actually meant.That starts now. Not for...
Tommy Sheppard
13 September 2019
Tommys Blog
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At two minutes past ten on Wednesday morning I was sitting in court number one just behind St Giles on the Royal Mile. A minute later Lord Carloway announced the unanimous decision by the appeal court judges that the British government had acted illegally in proroguing parliament.  There was an audible intake of breath as the decision hit.I was pleased to join my colleague Joanna Cherry QC, and ot...