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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
11 August 2023
Humza Yousaf: It was Angus MacNeil’s decision to leave the SNP

Humza Yousaf spoke to Iain Dale at the Edinburgh Fringe | Alamy

Humza Yousaf: It was Angus MacNeil’s decision to leave the SNP

Humza Yousaf has denied comments made by former SNP MP Angus MacNeil that the SNP left him.  

Speaking during broadcaster Iain Dale’s Edinburgh Fringe Show All Talk, the first minister was asked about comments made by Angus MacNeil after he was expelled from the party following a row with chief whip Brendan O’Hara.

Yousaf rubbished the MP’s claims saying, “he literally wrote a public statement that said I’m not going to take the whip”.    

MacNeil, who had been an SNP MP since 2005, posted to Twitter: “I didn’t leave the SNP – the SNP have left me.”  

Yousaf, who has known MacNeil since his time as an intern at Westminster, said: “Regardless of your longevity as an MP or your service in the SNP if you are elected as an SNP MP, it’s not for you to decide when you stop being an SNP MP – your constituents elected you on the party ticket.  

“For you to make a decision about when I am part of the group and I am not part of the group that has consequences, and ultimately that decision was taken by the conduct committee, that committee is elected by the membership and ultimately they made the decision they made last night and I was informed that it had taken place, and I absolutely stand by that decision.”  

Yousaf added that MacNeil had the opportunity to rejoin the group after relinquishing the whip. The first minister said that he “should be held to the same standard that I should be held to” or “any elected politician in the SNP”.  

Dale said the SNP group at Westminster had had “all sorts of splits”. He asked Yousaf how often he talks to group leader Stephen Flynn.  

Yousaf replied: “Very regularly, he’s been a great supporter, and offers good advice as well. I have a lot of time for Stephen, he is an exceptional individual.  

“I think I read from Joanna Cherry that the atmosphere in the group was good and that’s somebody who’s not been shy about being a vocal critic of the party or of the [Westminster] group.”

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