Thursday, 18 June 2015

SNP duck Commons vote on their own EU veto-lock

For the Daily Record

The SNP’s MPs have been accused of a fiasco after failing to put demands for a Scottish veto on the EU referendum to a Commons vote.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has a veto-lock as the SNP’s top priority in the EU referendum bill currently going through the Commons.

But when the SNP amendment in the name of Alex Salmond came to a vote in the Commons the party failed to call for it so the amendment automatically fell.

The SNP claimed yesterday the ploy was a clever move to have the amendment to brought back at the next stage of the Bill.

But experienced Commons observers were surprised by what they saw as a political own-gaol.

Footage of the process registers the bemusement on the face of deputy Commons Speaker Sir Roger Gale when the vote was not called by the SNP benches.

Labour’s Ian Murray MP yesterday accused the SNP “hollow rhetoric” as he laid into the nats for deliberately misrepresenting what was happening in Commons votes.

The shadow Scottish Secretary said: “The SNPs number one policy priority for the EU referendum was to have a double lock so that the UK could not come out of Europe unless all nations of the UK voted to do so.

“So, strange that when their amendment was called for a vote they did not vote for their own amendment.”
“For them ‘standing up for Scotland’ seems to be more about political posturing than actual action.”

An SNP spokesman said: “It is disappointing that Labour don’t appear to understand the rules in parliament.”

The SNP voting shambles came to light as Murray raised a point of order with the Commons Speaker about nationalist MPs repeatedly misrepresenting official votes in the Commons in their online tweets.

Murray said the SNP was “bringing the House into disrepute” after SNP MPs had repeatedly tweeted that Labour MP were voting with Tories on the Scotland Bill an the EU referendum bill, when they were not.

“Certain SNP MPs have tweeted out completely the contrary to what the votes were,” said Murray.
SNP leader of the Commons Pete Wishart mocked Murray by  making crying his eyes out gestures as the Labour MP was at the dispatch box.

Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing was more sympathetic and  said she hoped “a reasoned report of what happens in this chamber will be disseminated widely throughout the country by many means of communication.”

Tweets claiming that Labour had voted with the Tories were afterwards deleted from some twitter accounts.

The dispute was played out against the backdrop of the Commons voting against giving 16 and 17 year olds a say in the EU referendum. MPs voted down a Labour bid to give teenagers the vote by 310 votes to 265 with the SNP supporting Labour in the lobby.

Footnote: Here's the Common's Deputy Speaker waiting for the SNP to call the veto-lock vote:

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