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by Louise Wilson
28 September 2023
Fergus Ewing suspension is ‘proportionate’ says Humza Yousaf

Fergus Ewing suspension is ‘proportionate’ says Humza Yousaf

The suspension of Fergus Ewing from the SNP was a “proportionate” response to a breach of standing orders, party leader Humza Yousaf has said.

Speaking to reporters after First Minister’s Questions, Yousaf insisted he had “no issue” with members having different opinions but added that there are rules which all SNP MSPs must follow.

He said: “People should represent their constituents, but if you’re a member of the SNP, elected on the SNP ticket, there is of course standing orders, there’s rules you have to abide by as an SNP MSP.

“He [Ewing] was in breach of those standing orders. It was a very proportionate week suspension that was recommended and was overwhelmingly backed by MSPs.

“I hope after a week Fergus is reinstated back as an SNP MSP.”

The SNP group voted to suspend Ewing for one week after he voted against the SNP whip in favour of a motion of no confidence in Green minister Lorna Slater over the botched deposit return scheme.

The final tally saw 48 members back the suspension, with nine votes against and four abstentions.

Yousaf did not take part in that vote as he was unwell. He later added Ewing was “somebody who I like and admire and respect”.

In a statement after the vote, Ewing accused the party of forcing him to “choose between loyalty to party and loyalty to constituents”.

He has two weeks to decide whether to appeal the suspension.

Asked whether he would return to the SNP after the suspension is over, Ewing said: “I’ll have to consider that and decide what to do. I haven’t begun to do that yet because, as I say, I’ve been focused on speaking out in my constituents’ interests.”

He refused to answer questions on whether he may defect to rival pro-independence party Alba, or even whether he had recently spoken to its leader – and former SNP first minister – Alex Salmond.

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