SNP MPs walk out of Prime Minister’s Questions after Ian Blackford ordered to leave by Speaker

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford (PA Wire)

SNP MPs have walked out of the Commons after the party’s Westminster leader was ordered to leave.

Ian Blackford was told to “withdraw immediately from the House” after repeatedly challenging Speaker John Bercow.

Mr Bercow said he was suspending the party leader for the rest of the day following his “repeated refusal” to take his seat when told to do so.

Mr Blackford called for the Commons to sit in private when he was called to ask a question during the weekly PMQs session.

He said the people of Scotland had not been given the courtesy of proper debate on Brexit issues that will affect them during a debate on Tuesday night.

Mr Bercow said it would be better to deal with the issue at the end of the question session.
The SNP leader repeatedly objected and refused to return to his seat.

Mr Bercow told him “in light of the persistent and repeated refusal of the Right Honorable gentleman to resume his seat when so instructed” he was banning him for the rest of the day.

A vote on making it a private session would’ve seen MPs decide whether or not to clear the public gallery, disrupting proceedings for around 15 minutes.

It was a measure of protest from the Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP following what the SNP believe is mistreatment of Scotland’s MPs over Brexit and the EU Withdrawal Bill.

Multiple votes on the EU Bill late in the day yesterday meant that there was little time to debate devolution amendments.

After Mr Blackford was ordered to leave, his fellow SNP MPs left also in solidarity.

There were angry exchanges between rival parties.

Mr Blackford told BBC News: “Scotland’s voice has not been heard, we have had changes to the devolution settlement that were pushed through last night without Scottish MPs voices being heard. That is a democratic outrage.

“I asked the Prime Minister to bring in emergency legislation so we can conduct a proper debate, with respect, on the powers of the Scottish Parliament. Let’s discuss the power grab that is coming from Westminster.

“That is not acceptable and the Speaker refused to allow a division which I rightly called for. It is an absolute disgrace.

“My job, my colleagues’ job is to stand up for the powers of the Scottish Parliament. I will do that.”

Asked if it was a stunt, he replied: “Under standing orders I was entitled to push for that vote today on the basis of the lack of respect that the Conservative government and Theresa May have shown. It is not acceptable.

“I have a duty on behalf of my colleagues, on behalf of the First Minister and the government of Scotland and of the Parliament of Scotland, to stand up against the betrayal that has taken place of the Scottish people with the unprecedented power grab which is taking place. We need to, we will and we must stand up and defend Scotland’s interests.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon backed her party colleague, tweeting: “Right behind Ian Blackford and SNP MPs. Scotland and Scottish Parliament are being treated with contempt by Westminster and it needs to be highlighted.”

Green MP Caroline Lucas said: “Completely sympathise with The SNP MPs who just walked out. Devolution completely squeezed out of yesterday’s debate.

“If you’re wondering who is to blame for this chaos. It’s not the SNP. It’s not the Speaker. It’s the anti-democratic Tories.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell responded to the walk-out: “The SNP was about to be granted a debate on how the devolution aspects of the EU Withdrawal Bill.

“Disappointed, if not surprised, that if they really felt so strongly about it, they chose a stunt over holding the Government to account.”