Controversy over English MP’s appointment to Scotland Office

Written by Emily Woods on 29 July 2019 in News

Boris Johnson accused of snubbing Scottish Conservatives with new appointments

New Scotland Office Parliamentary Under Secretary Robin Walker - Image credit: Paul Heartfield

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been accused of delivering a “humiliating snub” to Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson by appointing an English MP to the Scotland Office.

On Friday evening the Scotland Office announced Worcester MP Robin Walker as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland, alongside Gordon MP Colin Clark who was appointed Government Whip and Parliamentary Under Secretary. Lord Keen of Elie QC has been reappointed HM Advocate General for Scotland.

Johnson bypassed 11 Scottish Conservative MPs to give the role to Walker, not including Clark and Galloway MP Alister Jack who was appointed Secretary of State for Scotland last week.

Walker will split his time in Scotland with Northern Ireland, as he was also appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Northern Ireland Office.

He wrote on Twitter it was a “huge honour to be made Minister for the union”.

“Our precious union deserves to thrive through brexit & beyond. I will work with colleagues all across the UK to ensure that it does,” Walker said.

SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said the appointment of a “Brexiteer Tory MP for Worcester” showed “how little regard the Tory government has for Scotland's views and interests”.

“This is another humiliating snub for Ruth Davidson, whose influence is rapidly ebbing away and who must be concerned a leadership challenge will be in sight,” Sheppard said.

“It is staggering that Boris Johnson thought a Brexiteer Tory MP for Worcester would be a better appointment to the Scotland Office than any of the Scottish Tories – revealing their lack of talent.

“Westminster is becoming more extreme and out of touch with Scotland by the day – as the Tory government prepares to take us off the Brexit cliff edge against our will.

“Any pretence that Scotland will be treated as an equal partner in the UK has long been abandoned. It's clearer than ever that the only way to properly protect our interests is by becoming an equal and independent European country.”

House of Commons library clerk David Torrance tweeted that Walker would be the first English MP to serve at the Scotland Office since 1887.

“As Secretary for Scotland between 1886-87, the future prime minister A. J. Balfour sat for Manchester East,” he tweeted.

Clark paid tribute to outgoing Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell, as an “excellent Secretary of State and I appreciate the years of work he did at the Scotland Office”.

“A strong Scotland is fundamental to the Union and I look forward to working with Alister Jack and Robin Walker at the Scotland Office,” he said.

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