SNP's Ian Blackford furious as Tory MPs groan at 'chlorinated chicken' Brexit trade claim

The SNP’s Westminster leader was heckled following a furious rant in the House of Commons. Ian Blackford stated that standards in Scotland could drop regarding animal welfare, food safety and environment protection following the end of the post-Brexit transition period with the European Union.  

“This law is a Tory invitation for chlorinated chicken and hormone injected beef in our supermarkets.

“We can hear the guffawing from the Conservative benches but yesterday morning on Politics Scotland the Treasury Minister more or less admitted that they could not stop chlorinated chicken coming into the United Kingdom.

“Go and check the tapes.” 

His comments sparked groans from Tories in the Commons as they dismissed the claims from the SNP Westminster leader.

During an interview with Express.co.uk, the Scottish Conservative Councillor for Cupar Tony Miklinski hit out at the current state of Scotland’s economy and hightlighted the struggles Nicola Sturgeon would face trying to join the EU. 

“If they did, they would impose strict and severe constraints on how the economy would have to be handled.

“That would mean closing the deficit gap and that can only be done through increased taxation, cutting spending or massive borrowing.”

Mr Miklinski added: “By the way, the SNP talk about give us the powers and we can do this for ourselves for example the UK’s support from the pandemic, of course that is not true.

“There is no way that a Scottish economy which does not really exist in isolation because it is supported by Westminster, would be given rates anywhere as good as the UK Government can negotiate.

“Basically better together means it, we are better as a union with the strengths of the UK meshing with what we offer.”  



SNP's hate crime law now officially the 'most controversial' legislation since devolution

Research undertaken by the Scottish Conservatives revealed it received more submissions than any other bill since Holyrood was created in 1999. The bill, which aims to reduce hate crimes, has attracted criticism from comedians, religious organisations and the police for being too heavy-handed with almost 2,000 submissions received.

The next highest number of submissions for other bills were 1331, 635 and 487, the analysis revealed.

Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf introduced The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill which looks to extend the law on ‘hate crime’ covering religion, sexual orientation and transgender identity.

If the law is passed by the Scottish Parliament, it means words or behaviour considered to be “abusive” and “likely” to stir up hatred would constitute an offence.

However, the controversial legislation has already faced criticism from the Scottish Police Federation, the Catholic Church in Scotland and the Law Society of Scotland, along with groups including the Free to Disagree campaign.

Writers

The new laws is the most controversial since Devolution (Image: Getty)

Humza Yousaf.

Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf put forward the bill (Image: Getty)

Liam Kerr MSP, Scottish Conservative justice spokesperson, said: “This Scottish Conservative analysis shows that the Hate Crime Bill is the most controversial law to ever come before the parliament.

“The problem isn’t hate crime legislation in itself – it’s the dangerous way this Bill has been constructed and drafted by the SNP.

“As drafted, the SNP’s Hate Crime Bill threatens our fundamental right to freedom of speech and that’s why so many Scottish people are furious about it.

“In the history of devolution, no bill has attracted this number of responses, and that goes to show just how contentious it is.

READ MORE: Sturgeon’s nightmare! Orkney to demand independence from Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon

The bill is currently under consultation in Holyrood (Image: Getty)

“If the SNP presses on with this Bill in this form, the level of outcry among civic Scotland and the general public will only increase and it risks a controversy that looks likely to be worse than Named Persons.”

SNP adviser Alex Bell also lambasted Humza Yousaf’s “ill-conceived” Hate Crime Bill in a scathing attack on government “group think”.

Mr Bell worked as a Scottish Government adviser when Alex Salmond was First Minister.

Writing in The Courier, Mr Bell said the Bill was “yet another piece” of “ill-conceived, badly drafted and ultimately unloved” legislation.

DON’T MISS: 
Fight for the Union: Boris plans urgent visit to Scotland [REVEAL] 

Boris Johnson to put SNP in its place over Brexit trade deal [INSIGHT] 
Passengers could have isolation cut to JUST FIVE days [LATEST] 

Books

Freedom of speech could be an offence under the new law (Image: Getty)

He said the SNP had “withdrawn, struck down or failed at too many policy initiatives”.

Mr Bell added: “If Bills were children, the Scottish Government would have filled an orphanage by now.”

He highlighted its broken 2007 manifesto pledges to scrap the council tax and cut classes in the first three years of primary school to 18 pupils.

Mr Bell also said the “good intentions” of the botched Named Person scheme and Football Act, tackling sectarianism, were “undone by bad politics and lamentable drafting”.

Protest

Certain demonstrations could be affected by the law (Image: Getty)

Hitting out “a group think in the dominant political party” he added: “The SNP have a tendency to like everything the leadership says, up until the official story is changed, then nobody remembers.”

Mr Bell added: “We have a political class easy with failure, if the bigger purpose of power, and independence, is still on track. And that is sad.

“It is also deeply worrying. There is no more aspirational policy than independence.

“But the party advocating it has repeatedly demonstrated it’s not very good at drafting things, it doesn’t have a handle on detail, and ministers are loathe to stand by policies that aren’t immediately successful.”

Liam Kerr

Scots Tory justice spokesman Liam Kerr led a debate against the Bill (Image: Getty )

His intervention comes after Justice Secretary Mr Yousaf saw off a Tory bid to axe the Bill amid fears it will hit freedom of speech.

On Wednesday the Conservatives were defeated, with Labour, Lib Dem and Green MSPs backing a motion calling for improvement rather than see the proposals scrapped.

Mr Yousaf has pledged to find “compromise” with its many critics and make changes after admitting there are “legitimate concerns”.

In response, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “It is heartening to see so many taking part in the democratic process and offering views.

Hate crime

The Scottish Tories released an analysis today (Image: Getty)

“There has been a wide array of views with many organisations offering support for the intent of hate crime legislation, such as the Equality Network and Victim Support Scotland.

“This is because no one should doubt that hate crime is a significant problem, with Police Scotland recording 6,736 hate crimes in 2017-18, and 886 – an average of around 17 a week – being common assaults fuelled by prejudice.

“To abandon those who are the targets of hatred is to abandon the very people that need our protection.

“MSPs have shown in the last week that they want improved legislation as they joined equality and human rights campaigners, and those supporting victims of crime, in backing the need for the Hate Crime Bill.

“The Justice Secretary has indicated that he is willing to find a compromise and common ground and that potential changes to the Bill will be seriously considered to address concerns.

“All MSPs should now continue to work to send a clear message that hateful behaviour has no place in modern Scotland.”

 



SNP's Ian Blackford blasted for using Brexit Bill as independence 'recruiting sergeant'

The SNP’s Westminster leader told Channel 4 News host Cathy Newman the Government is trying to undermine the Scottish Parliament and the will of the Scottish people who voted for their devolved MSPs in Scotland with its latest Brexit Internal Market Bill. But the Channel 4 News host accused Mr Blackford of using Boris Johnson’s plan to further his party’s agenda for an independent Scotland. Mr Blackford was also confronted on the fact that if Scotland were to rejoin the EU, his Govenrment would not be able to decide on how EU funds were spent in his own country. 

BREXIT BULLETIN: Sign up for our special edition newsletter with exclusive insight from this week’s crunch talks

Ms Newman said: “The Bill allows for money that was held by the EU and unelected commissioners to come back to Westminster, where you have representation.”

To which the SNP politician replied: “The spending that takes place in Scotland today with EU funds, like in the CEP for example, like in regional funding, is determined by the priorities of the Scottish Government on behalf of the people of Scotland.

“This is the Government that says they’re going to go over the heads of the Scottish Parliament, over the heads of the MSPs that we elect, and Westminster will determine the priorities of spending in Scotland.”

The Channel 4 News host rebutted: “But you can argue the toss over that in there where you’ve got a seat. You can’t do that in the EU with these commissioners.”

READ MORE: Forget EU law – Britain to get ‘billions of pound of investment’

Mr Blackford finally admitted: “The point is, Westminster is going to determine what happens with spending on roads and infrastructure in Scotland.

“We cannot have this. People in Scotland voted for a parliament with powers over devolved areas which Westminster is now going to legislate against.

“My message to the people of Scotland is if you want to stop Boris Johnson and Cummings and Gove – these are the three people behind this – the only way we can do that is to make sure we have the powers of that independent Scotland.”

To which Ms Newman blasted: “Ah, there we get to the crux of it. You’re actually using this as a recruiting sergeant for your independence cause to break up the Union!”

As the SNP politician attempted to justify his outburst, Speaker Hoyle added: “Mr Blackford, you’re a respected member of this House.

“You’ll do the right thing by this House and I’ve accepted that you’ve withdrawn it.”

Mr Blackford branded the UK Internal Market Bill proposals “nothing short of an attack on Scotland’s Parliament and an affront to the people of Scotland”.

He said: “This legislation breaks international law, but it also breaks domestic law. The Prime Minister and his friends… are creating a rogue state, one where the rule of law does not apply. Why does the PM think that he and his friends are above the law?

Mr Johnson replied: “This UK Internal Market Bill is about protecting jobs, protecting growth, ensuring the fluidity and safety of our UK internal market and prosperity throughout the UK and it should be welcomed, I believe, in Scotland, in Northern Ireland, in Wales and throughout the whole country.”

Mr Blackford said: “We saw the PM breaking the law last year with the prorogation of Parliament, we’ve seen the behaviour of Dominic Cummings and we know that this Government’s prepared to break its international obligations and what the Prime Minister said is complete rubbish and the Prime Minister knows this.”



SNP's Ian Blackford scolded by Speaker as he calls Boris Johnson 'LIAR' in Commons row

The Speaker said: “I’m sure that the leader of the SNP would like to withdraw that last comment of being a liar.

“No Honourable Member would do that.

“Would you please withdraw?”

As the SNP politician attempted to justify his outburst, Speaker Hoyle added: “Mr Blackford, you’re a respected member of this House.

“You’ll do the right thing by this House and I’ve accepted that you’ve withdrawn it.”

READ MORE: Boris Johnson taunts Keir Starmer over embarrassing Brexit silence

Mr Blackford branded the UK Internal Market Bill proposals “nothing short of an attack on Scotland’s Parliament and an affront to the people of Scotland”.

He said: “This legislation breaks international law, but it also breaks domestic law. The Prime Minister and his friends… are creating a rogue state, one where the rule of law does not apply. Why does the PM think that he and his friends are above the law?

Mr Johnson replied: “This UK Internal Market Bill is about protecting jobs, protecting growth, ensuring the fluidity and safety of our UK internal market and prosperity throughout the UK and it should be welcomed, I believe, in Scotland, in Northern Ireland, in Wales and throughout the whole country.”

Mr Blackford said: “We saw the PM breaking the law last year with the prorogation of Parliament, we’ve seen the behaviour of Dominic Cummings and we know that this Government’s prepared to break its international obligations and what the Prime Minister said is complete rubbish and the Prime Minister knows this.”

Controversial legislation which would override elements of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal with Brussels and breach international law will be tabled by the Government on Wednesday afternoon.

Downing Street had insisted changes in the Internal Market Bill were simply “limited clarifications” to protect the Northern Ireland peace process if they failed to secure a free trade deal with the EU.

But Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis provoked a furious reaction when he confirmed to MPs on Tuesday that the legislation would breach international law in a “very specific and limited way”.

The Bill, which will be tabled on Wednesday afternoon, is intended to ensure Northern Ireland can continue to enjoy unfettered access to markets in the rest of the UK.

Mr Lewis said the powers the Government was taking would enable ministers to “dis-apply” the EU legal concept of “direct effect” – which requires the enforcement of EU law – in “certain, very tightly defined circumstances”.

DON’T MISS:
Keir Starmer squirms as he fails to address Jeremy Corbyn stance [VIDEO]
France says Boris is bluffing and insists EU won’t cave on fish [INSIGHT]
Pound to euro exchange rate: What will Brexit mean for the pound? [ANALYSIS]

His admission led to Conservative former prime minister Theresa May warning the Government was in danger of losing the trust of other countries that it would honour its international agreements, while Labour described the admission as “absolutely astonishing”.

Sir Keir Starmer urged Mr Johnson not to “reopen old wounds” and to instead “get a deal, move on and concentrate on defeating (coronavirus)”.

The row erupted as the pound plummeted against the US dollar amid fears that Mr Johnson’s chances of securing a post-Brexit free trade deal with the EU were diminishing.

It followed the shock announcement that the head of the Government Legal Department Sir Jonathan Jones had become the latest senior civil servant to quit his post.

No reason was given for his resignation, but the Financial Times reported that he was “very unhappy” with the proposed changes to the Withdrawal Agreement.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I can confirm that he is stepping down and we would thank him for his years of hard service and wish him well for the future.”



Nicola Sturgeon humiliated as PHE debunks SNP's coronavirus testing advice

Ms Sturgeon said she would prefer to be “on the side of caution” with coronavirus testing, even if it meant more false positives. PHE however told English labs to set a threshold for the amount of viral load in a test before considering a positive result accurate. It comes after cases in the UK have started rising to levels last seen at the height of the pandemic.

The First Minister stated Scottish health authorities will treat each positive test as its own case.

Ms Sturgeon said: “When it comes to contact tracing, I guess my view as a politician is that we should still err a bit on the side of caution, rather than the opposite, so that we’re catching as many people as we possibly can.”

But PHE issued new guidance to England saying positive results over a certain level of viral threshold, or the “limit of detection”, should be tested again before contact tracing begins.

The health body said: “It is necessary to strike a balance between the risk of false positive test results and an acceptable level of delay in test turnaround time.”

PHE’s new guidance followed concerns raised by scientists about the rise in coronavirus cases.

Some suggested the rise is partially due to positive tests regardless of whether the person is infectious.

The PCR test used to detect coronavirus in the UK can read “dead” viral remnants as a sign of infection.

Low levels of viral remnants could suggest the person has recovered from the virus, but also indicates pre-symptoamtic cases.

On Tuesday, coronavirus cases in the UK rose by 2,420, with Scotland seeing a rise of 176.

In total, since the start of the pandemic the UK has seen more than 353,000 cases of coronavirus, with Scotland seeing 21,543.

But Tuesday showed three more deaths nationwide from the virus, with none in Scotland.

Hospital admissions for Tuesday also showed 757 patients nationwide in hospital for the virus, and 77 in ventilator beds.

Ms Sturgeon has also been attacked recently for stepping back from her comments on another Scottish independence referendum.

Last week, the First Minister announced a new bill outlining the proposed terms and timings of a new independence referendum will be put to the Scottish Parliament ahead of the Holyrood elections next year.

But on Tuesday, she insisted handling coronavirus in Scotland was her “priority”.

She added: “Genuinely, my focus right now is in tackling COVID and that will remain the case for as long as we’re in this situation.”



Nicola Sturgeon warned Scottish Tories aim to disrupt SNP's 'unhealthy' power stronghold

Tony Miklinski told Express.co.uk that the Scottish National Party has been in power far too long and that things have to change. He added that his party must take an important step towards replacing the SNP in the future by achieving a positive result in the 2021 Parliament election.

Mr Miklinski said: “We must deprive the SNP of a majority.

“We have got to improve on our current position even by a few seats to make sure that the balance of power is not with the SNP.

“They have been in power for far too long, the surrounding bureaucracy and civil service has been in the same political ambit for over a decade, it is not healthy.

“Democracy demands that you have changes in government from time to time and that includes Conservatives by the way.”

READ MORE: Sturgeon’s position in jeopardy as SNP ‘cracking’ under pressure

He continued: “Things have to change, there needs to be a different perspective, we have got to improve on our opposition.

“I think it is going to be impossible to do what we once hoped we could do which was replace them, but we need to take a step in that direction.

“That is what we should be targeting. ”  

During the same interview, the Scottish Conservative stated that Boris Johnson would not survive as Prime Minister if he gave Nicola Sturgeon a second referendum on Scottish independence.

“I do not think he would survive if he were to go down that route and that is because there is no moral or legal case for it.

“The referendum in 2014 gave the result, the SNP hate the result and that is why they continually campaign for another one but that does not make it right.

“They have had a referendum they cannot have one every 5 years or every 10 years hoping that you will just catch once the right answer or the right time for your thinking.

“They should respect the result and get on with life.”



SNP's Brexit trade deal warning dismantled in brutal Scottish independence slap down

Conservative MP Graham Stuart hit out at the SNP’s Neale Hanvey for claiming that the Government must urgently review the impact of Brexit as trade talks have not progressed. He claimed that trade with the European Union is worth more than that with other countries. But Mr Stuart explained the EU has not signed a free trade agreement with the world’s largest economies.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Hanvey said: “Japan accounts for around two percent of the UK’s total exports.

“The EU is worth over 20 times that amount and already has that trade deal with Japan.

“With many talks stalling, the UK is on track for a slew of bad deals or simply no deal at all.

“Is it not now time given the Government’s summer of U-turns on the COVID crisis to admit their Brexit bluff has been called and now urgently review this in light of the impact of the disruption to trade, jobs, livelihoods and the UK’s COVID recovery will have.

READ MORE: Ian Blackford confronted with Sturgeon’s own words in 2014 

Mr Stuart responded: “I don’t know who wrote the honourable gentleman’s question but it’s quite clear they’re hanging on desperately to the idea that there should be a failure.

“Overwhelmingly the continuity agreements have been rolled over, the opportunities are there to go further and have a more ambitious programme as well as to set new standards with Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

“It’s noticeable that in all the years that the EU has been in charge of our trade policy, it has never signed a deal.

“It’s never signed an FTA with the world’s largest economy let alone the next largest economies in the world.

Announcing her legislative agenda, she said suppressing COVID-19 is “our most immediate priority – and it will remain so for some time”, but her Government would use the disruption of the pandemic to “rethink how we do things”.

Meanwhile, Labour’s Shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said the proposed draft Referendum Bill was a “reckless announcement” which shows the First Minister’s “top priority is to divide the people of Scotland”.

The Labour MP said: “All her focus should be on post-COVID recovery, not returning to the old politics of division that will harm Scotland’s society and economy.

“Re-opening the constitutional debate will do nothing to help our NHS recover from the pandemic, or help the children who have lost months of education, or help grow our economy.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said that the announcement of a new Bill on Scottish independence “got the loudest applause of the afternoon” from SNP MSPs, adding: “That tells you all about their priorities.”



SNP's Blackford sees attempts to humiliate Boris backfire – 'Doing better than France'

SNP’s Ian Blackford attempted to push Prime Minister Boris Johnson into shelving plans to close the job retention furlough scheme in October. The Scottish MP pointed out countries like France, Germany and Ireland had extended their job-support schemes into 2021 to help workers overcome the coronavirus pandemic. But Mr Johnson was quick to shut down the SNP Westminster leader as he noted the UK had been “far more generous” than France and Germany with the economic programmes aimed at workers. 

Mr Johnson said: “What we’re doing is not only continuing with the furlough scheme as he knows until the end of the month, which is far more generous than anything provided in France or Germany or Ireland, but we will also get on with other measures to help people in work.

“Starting today there is the Kickstarter scheme to help young people get the jobs that they need.

“That is in addition to a £160 billion package that we expect to support this economy throughout the crisis.

“This Government has put its arms around all the people of this country, to support them throughout this crisis, and we will now help them to get back into work.

JUST IN: Boris Johnson faces Keir Starmer and backbench revolt in Commons grilling

More to follow…

Mr Blackford had previousy said: “The furlough scheme is there to protect people so that they can come back to work when the time is right.

“France, Germany and Ireland have extended their furlough schemes into 2021, they have made a moral choice.

“They’re not prepared to punish their people with record-levels of unemployment. People in Scotland are seeing a tale of two governments.

“While the Tories are cutting furlough scheme support, yesterday Nicola Sturgeon was announcing new investment to protect jobs, including the youth guarantee.

“We all know jobs are under threat if the furlough scheme ends in October. The power to end this threat lies with the Prime Minister.”

READ MORE: How should Boris react to Sturgeon’s independence threat? VOTE



Oh dear, Nicola! Sturgeon warned Scots will leave county over SNP's independence bid

Nicola Sturgeon’s dreams of an independent Scotland have been torn apart by George Galloway, who explained how the move would be “damaging” to the public. He claimed Scots would move out of the country if Scotland left the UK. It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson has denied SNP a second vote on the referendum for Scottish independence.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Galloway said: “The carnage that would have to be wreaked on the public sphere would be extraordinarily damaging.

“There would be a flight of capital, there would be a flight of people especially the best-earning people.

“It’s a disastrous strategy.

“Don’t get me started on how the Scottish people would feel if they did join the European Union and huge numbers of workers and cheap labour began arriving from eastern Europe.”

READ MORE: SNP’s new hate crime law could ‘see police action for Private views 

It comes after Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes received a vicious backlash online after she defended Ms Sturgeon’s plans for an independent Scotland.

SNP MSP Kate Forbes argued Scotland’s large deficit was not a reason for it not to become independent as she highlighted independent countries with huge deficits during the coronavirus pandemic.

But ITV presenter Peter MacMahon noted an independent Scotland would take a share of the UK’s deficit, meaning the country would have a higher deficit than Britain.

Twitter users have hit out at the finance secretary for comparing Scotland’s deficit to other countries during a global pandemic.

“Those are powers that we could use to invest in the economy and to manage our public finances far more sustainably than they are currently managed under this arrangement.”

Mr MacMahon said: “If Scotland were independent it would take a share of that UK deficit and it would add to the deficit we know it has. The deficit of an independent Scotland would be even higher than a UK deficit.”

Her comments have since sparked a backlash on Twitter.

One user wrote: “Not convinced that equating Scotland’s deficit during ordinary times with deficits of other countries during the economic crisis created by an unprecedented global pandemic is that solid an argument.”

Another added: “Good God. Pretty troubling that she doesn’t understand the basics of the financial situation facing Scotland.”



Nicola Sturgeon rattled as furious MSP lists SNP's own guidance amid care home chaos

Government officials are not involved in decisions to discharge COVID-19-positive patients from hospitals to care homes, the First Minister has said. Nicola Sturgeon was pressed on the issue by the leader of the Conservatives in Holyrood Ruth Davidson and Labour leader Richard Leonard who also said a freedom of information (FOI) request by his party showed 1,200 people had been moved without being tested. Over the weekend, the Sunday Post reported that at least 37 patients across Scotland had been discharged to a care home after having tested positive for the virus.

Speaking in Scottish Parliament, Mr Leonard said: “The First Minister referred earlier on to the Scottish Government clinical guidance from March 13 and it says there quite clearly, ‘there are situations where long-term care facilities have expressed concern about the risk of admissions from a hospital setting’.

“But it goes on three times in just five pages to say that care homes must keep taking transfers. The priority is maximising hospital capacity.

“It goes on to talk about floors out of hospital being not hindered and expedited.

“Does the First Minister not understand that people who have lost loved ones are upset but they’re also angry?

READ MORE: Gloating Sturgeon celebrates skyrocketing poll as PM on alert 

“A half of all deaths from COVID-19 took place in our care homes.

“The First Minister talks about transparency and honesty and she asks in Parliament she asks to be taken in good faith but out in communities in Scotland, people were being discharged from hospital into residential care homes where the most vulnerable to this virus are living.

“It was like as Professor Allyson Pollock said on the weekend, ‘putting a lit match to dry tinder’.”

The First Minister said clinical decisions were made to move people out of hospital, which she or her ministers would not be involved in.

The First Minister also pointed to work commissioned by the Health Secretary this week which will see Public Health Scotland publish figures on discharges from hospitals to care homes, including their testing history for the virus along with how many were discharged while they were considered to be infectious and what the rationale was for the discharge.

The study is expected to be made public by the end of September.

Mr Leonard also revealed that an FOI request from his party found that 1,203 people were discharged without a test between March and May, but said that was likely to be a “gross underestimate” as five NHS boards did not report back, including the two biggest in Scotland, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Lothian.

In May, Mr Leonard said, Ms Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament that patients in hospitals would need to have two negative tests before they could be discharged, before asking if the First Minister was aware at the time this was not happening in all situations.