Ian Blackford orders MPs to ready for new phase as he turbocharges SNP independence bid

Ian Blackford mocks Michael Gove’s dancing during SNP speech

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SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford urged colleagues to prepare for a “new phase” of campaigning as he announced changes to his front bench in a leaked email to staffers and MPs. Edinburgh East MP Tommy Sheppard, who currently serves as the party’s Cabinet Office spokesperson, will move to a new role with responsibility for the constitution and the devolved administrations.

 

Meanwhile, Stewart Hosie, who served as the SNP’s Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, will assume a wider role in the party’s pledge for separation.

Brendan O’Hara, MP for Argyll and Bute, will meanwhile assume front bench responsibilities for the Cabinet Office.

In a leaked email initially obtained by the Daily Record, Mr Blackford said the new phase of independence campaigning would begin after Parliament’s return in October.

The email added: “I will be addressing this in more detail with the group when we return from recess.

 

“As part of this I will be asking Stewart Hosie to work directly with me coordinating our independence campaigning.

“These changes will collectively enhance our ability to hold the UK Government to account and prepare for us for the tasks ahead in the drive to win the arguments for independence.”

But Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “Once again, SNP MPs are obsessed with finding new ways to create division.

“Constituents don’t send their MPs to Parliament to spend their time campaigning for their pet projects – they expect MPs to be focused on representing their interests.

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“This demonstrates that the SNP is out of touch with the people of Scotland who want their governments to work together in the collective interest.”

Donald Cameron MSP, Scottish Tory Constitution spokesperson, said: “All of our focus should be on our Covid recovery, but the SNP are stepping up their campaign for indyref2.

“People across Scotland are firmly against Nicola Sturgeon’s plans to hold another divisive referendum in the next two years – but the SNP are ramping up their plans to break up the country anyway.

“The SNP should be fully focused on tackling our NHS crisis and protecting Scottish jobs. Instead, their obsession with separation trumps everything else, as it always does.”

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants a second vote to take place before the end of 2023, subject to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson would still have to grant permission for a legal vote and has so far signalled a no to granting a section 30 order required for a referendum.

The SNP has been approached for comment.

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