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by Louise Wilson
12 October 2023
Lisa Cameron quits SNP and defects to Conservatives days before party conference

Lisa Cameron quits SNP and defects to Conservatives days before party conference

MP Lisa Cameron has quit the SNP and defected to the Conservatives.

She told the Scottish Daily Mail that she felt unable to continue as an SNP MP due to “toxic and bullying” colleagues.

The move comes just days before the SNP’s autumn conference in Aberdeen.

It also follows a bruising by-election defeat for the party in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, which neighbours Cameron’s East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow seat.

She told the Daily Mail: “I do not feel able to continue in what I have experienced as a toxic and bullying SNP Westminster group… I will never regret my actions in standing up for a victim of abuse at the hands of an SNP MP last year, but I have no faith remaining in a party whose leadership supported the perpetrator’s interests over that of the victims and who have shown little to no interest in acknowledging or addressing the impact.

“It is also true that I have received no contact from party leadership in the past weeks, despite members of every other main political party contacting me to offer support and compassion during what has been an extremely difficult time.

“I am particularly grateful to the prime minister in valuing my continued contribution to parliament as a health professional and in taking time to listen.

“It is the first time I have felt heard and shows positive, inclusive leadership in contrast to that which I have encountered in the SNP at Westminster over many years.”

The MP also said that she believed it was “more helpful” to focus on “constructive policies” which would benefit the “four nations of the UK” rather than Scottish independence.

A spokesperson for the SNP said Cameron's constituents would be "appalled" they are now represented by a Conservative. 

They said: “Lisa Cameron should now do the right thing and step down to allow a by-election.

“Her constituents elected an SNP MP not a Tory, and they deserve to have the democratic opportunity to elect a hard working SNP MP who will put the interests of Scotland first. On a personal basis, we wish her well.”

Cameron has been facing a selection battle within the SNP for her seat and has previously warned she would force a by-election is she were not reselected.

MSP Collette Stevenson, who represents the same area in the Scottish Parliament, and former MSP and deputy presiding officer Linda Fabiani had backed Cameron’s rival for selection.

She also previously spoke out about the “difficulties” she faced with SNP colleagues since speaking out against Patrick Grady. He was suspended after being found to have engaged in sexual misconduct against a young staffer.

And she faced criticism after writing to Scottish Secretary Alister Jack earlier this year expressing concerns about the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which was ultimately blocked by Jack.

Welcoming her to the party, Scottish Conservative leader Ross said: “Like many ex-SNP supporters, she has realised that her former party is hopelessly divided under Humza Yousaf and incapable of focusing on the real priorities of the Scottish people."

He revealed earlier this month that he has spoken to “a number” of SNP parliamentarians who had “raised concerns… about the direction of their government”.

Reacting to the news, longstanding SNP MP Pete Wishart tweeted: “This is exactly why the local party wanted her out and why she was about to be well beaten in a selection contest by Grant Costello.”

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