SNP membership increases by 5,000 after MPs' walkout over EU Withdrawal Bill

Written by Nicholas Mairs and Jenni Davidson on 14 June 2018 in News

Nicola Sturgeon predicted the Tories would pay “a very, very heavy political price” for their handling of the Brexit bill

Members at SNP conference - credit: PA Images

Membership of the SNP jumped by more than 5,000 in the 24 hours after the party's MPs walked out of the Commons in protest over the Brexit bill.

At First Minister’s Questions, Nicola Sturgeon said people were “angry” at the UK Government, before revealing that 5,085 new members had joined the SNP in a day.

This puts the SNP close to becoming the second largest political party in the UK, with nearly the same number of members as the Tories.

The most recent figures on party membership showed the Tories had 124,000 members as of March 2018, while the SNP had 118,200 in April and Labour was by far the largest with 552,000 members in January.

During FMQs the First Minister predicted that the Conservatives would pay “a very, very heavy political price indeed” for taking devolved powers away from the Scottish Parliament without consent.

Sturgeon said: "What we saw this week was the most clear and powerful evidence so far that the Westminster system simply does not work for Scotland.

"The Tories plan to remove powers from this Parliament without the consent of this Parliament.

"They ripped up the convention that has underpinned devolution for nigh on 20 years.

"They did so in the most contemptuous way possible, with a 15-minute debate and no opportunity for a single Scottish member of Parliament to get to speak. They hoped that nobody would notice.

"Thanks to SNP MPs doing their job and standing up for Scotland, people have noticed. People are angry.

"They are talking about it and are expressing their anger in different ways. Since lunch time yesterday, 5,085 of them have expressed their anger by joining the SNP.

Scottish Green co-convener Patrick Harvie also suggested the situation “greatly increases the urgency around giving the people of Scotland the ability to control their own future instead of dragging them into the chaos of Brexit Britain”.

And former Daily Record editor and architect of ‘The Vow’ Murray Foote has also confirmed that he now backs independence following Tuesday's Brexit debate, saying the UK Government was treating devolution with "blatant contempt".

SNP MPs walked out of Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday after the party’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, was expelled for refusing to accept the Speaker’s order for him to sit down.

Blackford had tried to use parliamentary procedure to force a vote halfway through the weekly questions on the parliament meeting in private.

The move came amid anger at the UK Government allowing just 15 minutes to debate how devolution will be affected by the UK leaving the European Union, with no Scottish MPs able to speak.

UK ministers are now pushing ahead with the EU Withdrawal Bill despite the Scottish Parliament refusing to give its consent to the legislation.

This had sparked a "constitutional crisis", Blackford said.

However, David Mundell said the UK Government could not accept the Scottish Parliament’s position after failing to find a compromise, but that talks would continue.

He told MPs: “We are now faced with the reality that the Scottish Parliament has not given consent for this critically important legislation that provides certainty across the UK.

“That is not a situation that any of us would have chosen. It is not however a crisis, nor is it unforeseen.

"While devolution settlements did not predict EU exit, it did explicitly provide that in situations of disagreement, that the UK parliament may be required to legislate without the consent of devolved legislatures."

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