SNP blasted for ‘pathetic theatrics’ after forcing votes during England World Cup match
SNP MPs have been accused of taking part in “pathetic theatrics” after forcing votes during England's World Cup match last night.
The Scottish nationalists forced five votes during the country's clash with Colombia, meaning that MPs missed the first half of the game.
The party used votes on obscure motions about ministers' spending to force Tory MPs to dash back to the Commons to avoid a Government defeat.
Votes on Government “estimates” are normally waved through – meaning that MPs do not have to formally vote on the issues – but objections from the SNP resulted in 66 minutes of extra debate.
Conservative MPs lined up to blast the “stunt” with Treasury minister Liz Truss saying the move was “sabotage”, while Scottish Tory MP Douglas Ross accused the SNP of taking part in “pathetic theatrics” after the deputy speaker was forced to get parliamentary staff to move the dawdling Scottish MPs through the voting lobbies.
“Now I know that under the SNP in Scotland, physical activity is amongst the lowest levels anywhere in the world, but I’m surprised how long it took just 33 members to walk through”, he joked.
As the second vote was forced, frustrated Tory MP Bernard Jenkin raised a point of order, asking: “Do you suppose that the Scottish National party would be calling so many divisions this evening if it were Scotland playing an important football match this evening?”
But Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing told MPs that the conduct was not disorderly, adding: “I just have a fervent hope that one day Scotland will be playing an important match”.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford defended the actions, saying that the timetabling of votes was the Government’s decision and that the vote gave the SNP a chance to “speak out against the continued austerity.”
He vowed to continue using parliamentary procedure to fight the Government “every inch of the way” after a row over the time given to debate post-Brexit devolution saw the group storm out of the Commons during a session of Prime Minister’s Questions last month.
The added time meant that MPs missed England captain Harry Kane’s first goal of England's victory, prompting SNP MP Peter Grant to take to twitter to boast about the “impeccable timing”.
“Thanks to impeccable timing of votes and points of order by the SNP, the adjournment bells all over parliament rang at the very moment England scored.
“Tory whips, you have no idea how much influence we really have”, he added.
But fellow SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said that his constituents would have been “furious” if the group had not pushed the spending estimates to a vote.
“Voting now for the fifth time against Tories’ austerity budget”, he tweeted.
“Shame to be missing the match but the people who elected me would rightly be furious if I prioritised football over voting against the government.”