A senior Scottish nationalist MP was ejected from the British parliament on Wednesday in chaotic scenes after staging a protest against the government’s “contempt” for Scotland in the Brexit process.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) leader in the House of Commons, Ian Blackford, used a parliamentary procedure to try to disrupt the weekly prime minister’s question time, calling for an immediate vote on a motion for MPs to sit in private.
Speaker John Bercow agreed to discuss the issue once question time was over but when Blackford refused to take his seat, ordered the Scot out of the chamber for the rest of the day.
In a spectacle condemned by British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government as a “stunt”, other SNP MPs followed Blackford out of the door, some shouting at the speaker.
Scotland’s separatist First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon tweeted that she was “right behind” her MPs.
She said Scotland and its parliament “are being treated with contempt by Westminster and it needs to be highlighted”.
The row relates to the flagship EU (Withdrawal) Bill, which sets the legal framework for Brexit and would transfer thousands of European rules into British law.
The Scottish Parliament has refused to approve the bill because it could mean powers currently held by Brussels are moved to London, even when they relate to devolved areas — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The SNP acted Wednesday after the government allowed no time for MPs to debate devolution issues in the bill on Tuesday night, in what would have been their last opportunity to object.
Blackford said the lack of debate was a “democratic outrage” and said the situation had become a “constitutional crisis”.
“The prime minister gave a commitment that she would treat Scotland as part of a ‘union of equals’,” he said in a press release issued ten minutes after the walk-out.
“Yet last night she pressed ahead with a power-grab in direct opposition to Scotland’s elected parliament.”
A Downing Street source dismissed the protest as a “stunt”.
The source said the government had held talks with Scotland for a year and the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff had accepted its devolution proposals.
“The vast majority of powers that come back from the EU in terms of the devolved administrations will go directly to Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff,” the source said.
Northern Ireland’s government in Belfast has been suspended for more than a year in a power-sharing dispute.