MP suspended from SNP after saying party 'clueless' about independence

Angus MacNeil resigned from the SNP Westminster parliamentary group this week.

Angus MacNeil MP suspended from SNP after saying party ‘clueless’ about independence UK Parliament

The SNP has suspended an MP after he turned down rejoining the party claiming it was “clueless” about an independence plan.

Angus MacNeil had the party whip suspended last week following a heated row with the party’s chief whip Brendan O’Hara, whom he accused of bullying.

But on Wednesday, before he was due to complete his seven-day suspension, he announced he would not be rejoining his SNP colleagues in the Commons but would sit as an independent MP instead.

The Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP said the move was not about the incident with the chief whip.

Instead, he slammed the Scottish Government as being “utterly clueless” on its independence strategy.

MacNeil has been an increasingly vocal rebel in the SNP.

On Friday, the SNP said its national secretary considered him to have breached the party code of conduct and had suspended him.

A spokesperson told STV News that the SNP Member Conduct Committee will look into MacNeil’s actions.

An SNP spokesperson said: “Angus MacNeil MP was advised by the SNP national secretary on Wednesday that she considered him to be in breach of the party’s code of conduct by his decision to resign from the SNP Westminster parliamentary group.

“Having acknowledged this, Mr MacNeil did not take up the offer to rejoin the SNP parliamentary group and the matter was, therefore, yesterday referred to the SNP Member Conduct Committee for consideration.”

“I will only seek the SNP whip again if it is clear that the SNP are pursuing independence,” MacNeil said on Wednesday.

“At the moment, the SNP has become a brand name missing the key ingredient.

“The urgency for independence is absent.”

The Western Isles MP pointed to countries such as Ireland, Iceland and Norway which he said will see population increases of between 10-32% by 2050.

“Clearly, there is a real cost to not being independent,” he said.

“The Scottish Government went to the Supreme Court a year ago utterly clueless about how to pursue independence, left the Supreme Court utterly clueless about how to pursue independence.

“The SNP still have no clear understanding that it has to use elections to negotiate Scottish independence from Westminster by getting the backing of the majority of the electorate.”

Angus MacNeil criticised the SNP's focus and strategy on independence.STV News

He accused the SNP of “tricks” and said the party was “kicking the can down the road” on independence.

This, he said, had not served Scotland well in matching its “successful” neighbours.

“Instead we are trapped with Brexit in a socially failing UK,” he added.

“There has to be hope of change after the SNP conference this October, with a lot of groundwork under way.

“Therefore, I shall not seek to re-join the SNP Westminster group but will meantime sit as an independent”.

On Twitter, he added that he would not be seeking to rejoin the Westminster SNP group until at least October.

Alba parliamentary leader Neale Hanvey MP, who was formerly in the SNP, said the “total confusion over independence strategy is causing fundamental problems” for the party.

He added: “Humza Yousaf needs to address this fundamental issue right now and turn the tide before it is too late.”

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