Ian Blackford vows SNP will ‘do whatever it takes’ to frustrate UK Government over Brexit row

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has vowed his party will take “whatever action is necessary” to press its case at Westminster in the wake of the “constitutional crisis” sparked by the row over Brexit powers.

Mr Blackford made the pledge less than 24 hours after he was expelled from the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions.

He warned the UK Government that “this is not the end of the matter, this is the beginning”, as he told how the SNP at both Westminster and Holyrood will now work to “frustrate” Theresa May’s administration.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that the Tories were “obstructing devolution” and said the SNP “simply are not going to stand back and allow that to happen”.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford (PA Wire)

Mr Blackford stated: “Together with my colleagues in government in Edinburgh there will be a very robust defence of our parliamentary democracy, our parliamentary sovereignty and the rights of the Scottish people.

“I will make sure we can frustrate as much as we possibly can what the Government are doing.

“We will remain civil, we will remain polite, we will remain courteous but they need to understand that a line has now been crossed and the Conservatives are enacting legislation without the support of the Scottish Parliament, with lack of consent.

“We are now in different territory.”

SNP MPs in the Commons had been outraged on Tuesday evening when amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill affecting Scotland were passed after less than 20 minutes of debate, with the only speech being from Cabinet Office minister David Lidington.

The Scottish Parliament has already voted against granting formal consent to the Bill, with Labour, Green and Lib Dem MSPs united with nationalists in that stance.

The opposition stems from concerns that Holyrood’s powers could be constrained for up to seven years as a result of the legislation, with some of the responsibilities returning from Brussels going to UK ministers instead of those in Edinburgh.

Mr Blackford hit out: “This is a very, very serious moment for all of us because Westminster without debate, and I think this is a really important factor, pushed ahead with amendments to the Withdrawal Bill, which have stripped powers that should be coming back to the Scottish Parliament under the Scotland Act.

“It is a constitutional crisis.”

He added: “It is regrettable that the UK Government have pushed ahead with this, that there has been no respect shown to not just the Parliament of Scotland but the people of Scotland.”

Mr Blackford vowed: “Together with my colleagues I will be continuing to press the issue to make sure that Scotland’s voices are heard.

“This is not the end of the matter this is the beginning.”

Scottish Tory MP Andrew Bowie hit back at claims that the Withdrawal Bill was a Westminster “power grab”.

He said: “Due to the legislation we passed this week 120 extra powers will be going to Holyrood, this is going to enhance the devolution settlement, not in any way restrict it.”

The West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP told the same programme there “should have been a much more substantial debate” on the issues but blamed Labour for this, saying most of the time had been taken up with votes in the Commons that had been pressed for by Jeremy Corbyn’s party.

And he hit out at Mr Blackford, saying: “By walking out of the chamber in a pre-prepared parliamentary stunt he actually gave up the opportunity to hold the Government to account and actually have a debate about the very issue he is complaining he hasn’t had a debate on.”

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