If Scotland’s democratically elected politicians are deliberately gagged in the UK Parliament then there is no Union. Last night that is exactly what transpired, as the Deputy Chair blocked the SNP’s Joanna Cherry from speaking in the vital Brexit debate, instead inviting the Brexit Minister Robin Walker to speak, who arrogantly and wrongly declared, “We have heard from all 4 corners of the United Kingdom”.
Any democrat in Scotland should find this wholly unacceptable regardless of affiliation or opinion. In an affront to democracy and Scotland’s MPs, Lindsay Hoyle the Deputy Chair and Labour MP for Chorley for the last 20 years interrupted a stunned Joanna with “the Honourable Lady has come to an end, can we have the Minister please.”
The MP for Edinburgh South West, Johanna Cherry later explained,
“I had not finished speaking. This evening is the incontrovertible proof of the contempt in which Scotland is held at Westminster”
Ian Blackford, the SNP MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber summed the situation up well by telling Parliament
“I hope you can understand the frustration we all feel that only two SNP MPs have been called in this debate which is important to the future of Scotland and our position within Europe and I’m asking what you can do in this debate to ensure the voice of the people of Scotland is heard correctly”
To this, Deputy Chair Hoyle ominously said “You’ve done better than was going to happen” which seems to hint at a pre-conceived arrangement to lock the SNP out of the debate.
Earlier, an SNP amendment that article 50 could not be implemented without agreement from all devolved parts of the UK was defeated 332-62 meaning Scotland and Northern Ireland’s distinctly different outlook on our European future will be ignored when it comes to leaving the EU. The SNP amendment read:
“The Prime Minister may not exercise the power under section 1(1) until at least 1 month after all of the Joint Ministerial Committee on European Negotiation have agreed a UK wide approach to, and objectives for, the UK’s negotiations for withdrawal from the EU”
The background to the farcical Westminster treatment came as the SNP had been shut out of the important debate on ‘The European Union (notification of withdrawal) Bill’ as it reached the committee stage. The SNP whip Marion Fellows was forced to approach the chair due to the SNP MPs being largely shut out of the debate pleading for Scotland’s MPs to be heard.
Following this, Lindsay Hoyle ‘allowed’ Joanna Cherry to speak although not for long before abruptly cutting her off. Joanna noted that members opposite got ample time to make their points and mentioned she too would take the opportunity to make her points. Hoyle, clearly not happy to hear SNP points bizarrely decided Joanna was finished.
A visibly insulted Alex Salmond then intervened with a point of order making it “quite clear Joanna Cherry had not resumed her seat” and that Hoyle was “reinterpreting the wishes of a member who was on their feet”. A stuttering Hoyle then said the chair was been taken advantage of and said “the house wants to hear what the Minister wants to say”. He also wrongly insinuated Alex Salmond had used ‘unparliamentary language’ before stating, “What I want to do is bring the Minister in”
The UK Parliament has taken ignoring the SNP to a whole new level by shutting them down against Parliamentary convention. The acting Chair said it was an important debate and he wanted to hear what the Minister had to say but clearly the SNP MPs were not important enough to him to hear Scotland’s perspective. The contempt in which SNP MPs are held in Westminster has never been more thinly disguised. This is undemocratic, unacceptable and should mark the day where all Scots stand together and say No More!