David Lidington’s address to the House of Commons erupted in cheers as he took aim at SNP’s agenda for Scottish independence and its previous party leader Alex Salmond’s failure to “respect the result” of the 2015 Scottish referendum. After a rant from SNP MP Peter Grant on the perceived negative impacts Scotland will face from Brexit, the Chancellor of Duchy of Lancaster quickly snapped back a comical response.
Mr Lidington said: “Finally Mr Speaker I thought the honourable gentleman painted a caricature of this Government’s attitudes towards Scotland and the Scottish people.
“I won’t go into the political knockabout I’m sorely tempted to go towards.
“I would say this, it’s a bit rich for the honourable gentleman to give lectures about respecting the results of the referendum.”
Parliament then erupted with loud cheers and laughter and Mr Lidington paused to allow the noise to die down.
Mr Lidington continued: “When what his then party leader, now airbrushed out of history, said was once in a generation opportunity to vote for the Scottish independence.
“It was put to the people of Scotland, it was rejected decisively and I just wish the honourable gentleman would accept that mandate from the Scottish people.”
In 2015 Scotland voted to remain part of the UK, however, its leaders – most recently Nicola Sturgeon – have repeatedly pledged to hold another referendum.
Addressing the Commons on Monday, Mr Lindington told MPs that “legally-binding” changes that “strengthen and improve” the Brexit deal have been secured.
Mr Lidington added that two documents – a legally binding instrument and a joint statement – would be presented to the Commons.
He said: “The first provides confirmation that the EU cannot try to trap the UK in the backstop indefinitely and that doing so would be an explicit breach of the legally-binding commitments that both sides have agreed.”
And he said the “joint instrument” reflects the commitment to “replace the backstop with alternative arrangements by December 2020”.
The Cabinet Office Minister called on MPs to back Mrs May’s deal, saying: “Tomorrow there will be a fundamental choice, to vote for the improved deal or to plunge the country into crisis.”
Mrs May travelled to Strasbourg on Monday with Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay for last-minute talks.
Mr Lidington added that the Attorney General would be publishing advice ahead of tomorrow’s debate.
He said: “The Attorney General will publish his legal opinion. I think the house would expect the Attorney General to consider very carefully rather than rush an opinion out to meet the deadline for this statement this evening.”