SNP rally round walk-out MPs

Written by Tom Freeman on 14 June 2018 in News

Nicola Sturgeon brands lack of time in EU Withdrawal bill debate for devolution "a travesty of democracy".

SNP MPs after their walk-out from the Commons - PA

Nicola Sturgeon has defended the mass walk out of SNP MPs in the House of Commons yesterday as part of a row over the EU Withdrawal Bill.

The party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford was thrown out of the chamber by the speaker during Prime Minister’s Questions for refusing to sit down after asking for emergency legislation on devolution.

All other SNP MPs followed Blackford as he left the chamber.

MPs were given just 15 minutes to debate the devolution impacts of Brexit last night following a day dominated by Conservative party wrangling over the process.

In effect this led to Westminster ignoring the consent of the Scottish Parliament for the first time since devolution in 1999, following a lack of agreement between the UK and Scottish governments over powers repatriated from Brussels.

Blackford said: "It is a democratic outrage. The people of Scotland will not be disrespected by this Parliament. Mr Speaker - under the circumstances, given the disrespect that it shows I have got no option but to ask that this House now sits in private."

After the walk out a spokesperson for the Prime Minister called it a “stunt”.

But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted that around 1,500 people had joined the SNP in the aftermath.

“Right behind Ian Blackford and the SNP MPs. Scotland and the Scottish Parliament are being treated with contempt by Westminster and it needs to be highlighted,” she said.

The move also won the backing of Green MP Caroline Lucas.

“Completely sympathise with the SNP MPs who just walked out,” she said.

“Devolution [was] completely squeezed out of yesterday's debate. If you're wondering who is to blame for this chaos. It's not the SNP. It's not the Speaker. It's the anti-democratic Tories.”

But Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: "Disappointed, if not surprised, that if they really felt so strongly about it, they chose a stunt over holding the government to account."

Labour’s Shadow Scottish secretary Lesley Laird said: “Today’s stunt by Ian Blackford and his colleagues simply emphasises further that they have one aim - to play political games rather than standing up for Scotland.

“They had a chance today to question the Prime Minister and secure a three hour debate on devolution. Instead, they chose to flounce out of the House of Commons.

“Labour have proposed a solution to break the deadlock, and the onus is on David Lidington and David Mundell to sort this out. People in Scotland just want this mess fixed before it ends up in the courts.”

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