SNP MPs have walked out of the Chamber during Prime Minister’s Questions, following repeated attempts to silence Scotland’s voice.
Ian Blackford MP used a standing order to call for the House of Commons to sit in private, following the Prime Minister’s failure to bring forward emergency legislation on the EU Withdrawal Bill.
The SNP Westminster Leader used the parliamentary procedure to ensure the will of the Scottish Parliament is respected and the Brexit legislation pauses until the Scottish Parliament’s Legislative Consent Motion is considered as the UK leaves the European Union.
Local MP, Brendan O’Hara described events in the House of Commons last night (Tuesday) as a ‘democratic outrage’ as the Tories’ power grab on devolved administrations was not debated in the chamber – and Labour abstained on a devolution amendment ‘in a shocking dereliction of duty’.
The SNP tabled amendments to the UK Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill to protect the Scottish Parliament from a power grab as the UK leaves the EU.
Following the votes, SNP MPs raised Points of Order with the Speaker over proceedings.
The Brexit legislation leaves Holyrood exposed to having powers taken without consent in areas including trade deals, environmental standards and food safety – all issues of key concern to the Scottish Parliament.
Following the decision by the SNP, Labour, the Greens and the Liberal Democrats in the Scottish Parliament to refuse to give consent to Westminster’s damaging Brexit legislation – a failure by the UK Government to amend the legislation in light of the Scottish Parliament’s view is a fundamental breach of the devolution settlement.
Commenting, Brendan O’Hara said: “It’s a democratic outrage that Scotland’s voice should be so callously disregarded by Westminster and outrageous that the leader of the 3rd largest party, the SNP, should be told leave the chamber on an accepted procedural matter.”
“I was inundated by protests by constituents following the lack of debate on devolution issues in the EU Withdrawal debate. What happened in Tuesday’s debate was a disgraceful abuse of the UK’s power over Scotland. We cannot keep allowing this to happen.”
Ian Blackford said: “The Prime Minister gave a commitment that she would treat Scotland as part of a ‘union of equals’. Yet last night she pressed ahead with a power-grab in direct opposition to Scotland’s democratically elected Parliament.”
This is the Standing Order that Ian Blackford was requesting to be enabled and to which the speaker refused to implement.
The standing order for the House to sit in private is 163.
(1)If at any sitting of the House, or in a committee of the whole House, any Member moves ‘That the House sit in private’ the Speaker or the chair shall forthwith put the question ‘That the House sit in private’, and such question, though opposed, may be decided after the expiration of the time for opposed business, but such a Motion may be made no more than once in any sitting: Provided that the Speaker or the chairman may, whenever he thinks fit, order the withdrawal of those other than Members or Officers from any part of the House.
(2)An order under paragraph (1) of this order shall not apply to members of the House of Lords.
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