New SNP Westminster leader uses PMQs to highlight positive poll on independence support
Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn has used his debut as the SNP’s leader at Westminster to goad Prime Minister Rishi Sunak about a new poll that shows an increase in support for Scottish independence.
During today’s session of Prime Minister’s Questions, Flynn, who was elected to succeed Ian Blackford as the SNP’s Westminster group leader last night, pointed to an Ipsos Mori poll released today that put support for independence at 56 per cent, an increase of six points since the last survey was carried out in May.
“Far be it for me to offer advice to a mere billionaire, but he’s going to have to up his game,” Flynn said.
“In the last 15 minutes a poll has landed which shows that support for Scottish independence has now hit 56 per cent and support for the Scottish National Party sits north of 50 per cent.
“So, within that context, can I ask the prime minister, does he consider that increasing energy bills on households in energy-rich Scotland by a further £500 will cause those poll numbers to rise or fall?”
In response, Sunak, who gave his “warm, heartfelt well wishes” to Blackford and joked that he would “miss his weekly contributions”, said the UK Government had delivered a £55bn package of energy-bill support to people across the whole of the UK, including Scotland, that would “save the typical household about £900 this winter”.
“That is an example of the United Kingdom and the union delivering for the people of Scotland,” he said.
Earlier in the session Sunak was asked by the SNP’s Philippa Whitford whether, following the recent Supreme Court ruling in the Lord Advocate’s indyref case, he still believes the UK is “a voluntary union” and how the people of Scotland could democratically choose to leave that union given that the court ruled only Westminster could legislate for a vote on secession.
Sunak said he “fully respects” the court ruling and will “work constructively with the Scottish Government to deliver for the people of Scotland”.
Labour leader Keir Starmer, meanwhile, questioned the prime minister on the Tory party’s links to Scottish businesswoman Michelle Mone, a Conservative peer who has taken a leave of absence from the House of Lords over her alleged connections to a firm that was awarded a UK Government PPE contract during the Covid-19 pandemic.
How, Starmer asked, did “Baroness Mone end up with nearly £30m of taxpayers’ money in her bank account?”.
Sunak said that “like everyone else” he had been shocked by the allegations against Mone, whose family business was behind the Ultimo bra range, and that it was “absolutely right” that she is no longer attending the House of Lords and that she “therefore no longer has the Conservative whip”.
While Sunak said it was “right” to follow due process to resolve the matter, Starmer said he should already have the answers as he had been chancellor at the time and so “signed the cheques” that paid for the “dodgy PPE” produced by the company Mone allegedly lobbied for.