Yousaf denies rebel MSP’s claim that the SNP is ‘authoritarian’

Fergus Ewing made the comment after his suspension from the party was upheld.

First Minister Humza Yousaf denies rebel MSP Fergus Ewing’s claim that the SNP is ‘authoritarian’ STV News

First Minister Humza Yousaf has denied claims from rebel MSP Fergus Ewing that the SNP is “authoritarian”.

Ewing, a Holyrood veteran of almost 25 years’ standing, hit out at party bosses after a suspension was imposed on him for siding with the opposition in a vote of no confidence against a Scottish Government minister.

The Inverness and Nairn MSP had appealed against the week-long suspension imposed by the SNP group at Holyrood last September, but he revealed on Tuesday the party had upheld the decision.

Ewing, the son of late SNP trailblazer Winnie Ewing and a former rural economy secretary in the Scottish Government, said: “The SNP has now become an authoritarian party requiring strict obedience to the leadership at the expense of personal freedom for any individual member.”

Asked on Wednesday if the SNP is “authoritarian”, party leader Yousaf said simply: “No, we’re not.”

Ewing was suspended after he voted against circular economy minister and Scottish Green co-leader Lorna Slater in a vote of no confidence at Holyrood – which came in the wake of his opposition to the Government’s stalled deposit return scheme.

He has also spoken out against the Government on policies including short-term lets and gender recognition reforms, and has been critical of ministers over delays to the dualling of the A9 road between Perth and Inverness.

In a statement on Tuesday night, he insisted his vote against Slater was a “vote of conscience” and he insisted the public “do not want MSPs to be mere ciphers or rubber stamps of leadership dictation”.

Ewing declared: “If my constituents wanted a doormat, they would have gone to B&Q.”

He vowed to “continue to defend” his constituents, and on his future in the SNP, Ewing said cryptically: “Let the cards fall as they may.”

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