Monday, 6 Dec 2021

SNP rumbled as MP brandishes ‘out-of-date’ Brexit statistics to peddle ‘anti-UK’ agenda

Greg Hands shuts down SNP MP over ‘out of date’ figures

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Alyn Smith, SNP MP for Sterling, spoke on Tuesday about the Brexit trade deal in scathing terms. But Greg Hands, Conservative MP for Chelsea and Fulham and Trade Policy minister, rubbished his Scottish rival’s claims.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Hands suggested Mr Smith was pushing the “politics of grievance against the UK” during the Commons session on July 19

Mr Smith cited figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) comparing quarter one of this year with 2019, which showed UK-EU “trade is down 27 percent”.

The SNP MP added: “Now some of that is down to covid, much of that is accountable by Brexit.

“Make UK report that 96 percent of their members are having problems with the new trading regime.

“These are facts. What is the ministers secret? How does he maintain his panglossian optimism for the future while ignoring such pains and hurt in the here and now?”

Mr Hands, prepared to clap back at the SNP MP, cited the latest trade data.

He retorted: “I was quite deliberate in the use of those statistics.

“We do need to take care with monthly statistics. But nonetheless, the first-quarter data is already two months out of date.

“He is right that there was a dip in January, but that, Mr Speaker, was due to the closure of the border at that time due to the prevalence of the Alpha variant in this country.

“Since then there has been a very significant recovery, and the latest data for May shows £14billion of exports, up 8 percent on the previous month and only just lower than the monthly average before the pandemic.

“So I would suggest that he can quote the ONS, but perhaps he might want to look at the latest data, refresh his briefing, and perhaps ask accordingly to the latest data.”

On Twitter, the Tory skewered Mr Smith for the error, posting footage of the embarrassing exchange on Tuesday July 20.

He wrote: “The SNP once again using out-of-date data to push their politics of grievance against the UK.

“This time from Alyn Smith, the equal most anti-trade MP in the Commons. 1 of only 2 to be vs. the EU-Japan FTA.

“Fortunately, & expecting this, I had the latest trade data to hand.”

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It comes as SNP officials have called on the Trade Secretary Liz Truss to visit Scotland to “apologise to businesses”.

Ms Truss is in the country for two days to speak to companies about how to “promote Scottish exports and investment”.

Drew Hendry, SNP MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey and Shadow International Trade spokesperson, said: “Liz Truss should use this visit to Scotland to apologise to the countless businesses who are paying a heavy price due to her government’s extreme Brexit policy.

“Time and time again the interests of Scotland’s businesses – including Scottish farmers and crofters under the Australia trade deal – have been completely sidelined by the Tory government.

“It’s clear beyond any doubt that Scotland is increasingly vulnerable under Westminster control, and that the only way to keep Scotland safe from the long-term damage of Brexit and Tory trade deals is to become an independent country.”

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