Monday, 11 May 2015

The Fifty Six arrive (minus one)

The SNP MPs meet the cameras at St Stephen's Entrance

For the Daily Record

NICOLA Sturgeon greeted her conquering army of MPs at Westminster yesterday with a declaration that David Cameron has “no right” to rule out a second independence referendum.

As the band of nationalist brothers and sisters gathered the St Stephen’s entrance of Westminster in a dramatic display of the SNP’s election success, Sturgeon said she was “not planning” to hold another referendum, but refused to rule it out.

The SNP leader set out her position in an appearance on ITV’s Loose Women (it was that kind of day) ahead of joining the troops outside parliament.

She said: “We had that debate and that vote last year, and Scotland, against my better efforts, opted to stay part of the United Kingdom, to stay part of the Westminster system.

She added: “I’m not planning another referendum. Why I stop short of saying I absolutely guarantee it is the same reason I don’t think David Cameron has got any right to rule it out.”

Supporters at the parliament gate fielded a huge Saltire to challenge the Union flags that dominate the Whitehall skyline.

A huge scrum of photographers shouted at the gathering MPs: “Can you go back, can you go back?”

They were not asking the SNP to turn home, but to move further away so the lenses could fit them all in.

Not all could make it. Islands MP Angus MacNeil was delayed by bad weather, but almost every other corner of Scotland was represented.  

Former First Minister Alex Salmond joined the throng at the last minute, enjoying the moment.

Salmond acknowledged in light of the electoral progress he made the right decision to stand aside as First Minister and return to Westminster as a humble backbencher.

He will not challenge Angus Robertson MP, the sole nominee for the leadership position when the group meets formally on Tuesday.

Salmond said: “I loved being First Minister, but everyone has his time”.

Looking around, he added: “I think things are turning out not too badly, as I see it.”

As well as representing most of Scotland the new MPs looked like a cross-section of Scottish society.

Chris Law, like any Scottish tourist, wanted to see the spot in Westminster Hall where William Wallace was tried.

The pony-haired, six foot six bearded MP looked smart in his three-piece Edinburgh tweed suit.

He vowed to wear tweed for the duration of the five year parliament, if he won.

With London sweltering in 24 degrees centigrade sunshine that second referendum can’t come soon enough for him.

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