- SNP MP Lisa Cameron has defected to the Conservatives
- Humza Yousaf said it was the “least-surprising news” he has had as SNP leader
- Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he is “delighted” by the defection
- The SNP has called on Dr Cameron to “do the right thing” and step down to trigger a by-election
- The East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow MP had faced a selection battle to stand in the general election next year
- Labour claimed Dr Cameron’s defection shows that the SNP is “falling apart”
- It comes just days before Humza Yousaf will host his first party conference as leader
An SNP MP has quit the party and joined the Scottish Conservatives, citing a “toxic and bullying” experience.
Dr Lisa Cameron, who represents East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow, claimed she required counselling as a result of the incident and there was a “significant deterioration” in her health and wellbeing.
Rishi Sunak said he is “delighted”. Humza Yousaf said it was the “least-surprising news” he has had as SNP leader.
SNP MP quits to join Conservatives over 'toxic and bullying' treatment.— STV News (@STVNews) October 12, 2023
Dr Lisa Cameron, who represents East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow, defected to the Conservatives.https://t.co/HOj30AfwWA pic.twitter.com/zqBzo67iBi
The SNP has called for Dr Cameron to step down and for there to be a by-election. It comes just days before Yousaf will host his first party conference as leader.
The First Minister said Dr Cameron should “do the honourable thing” and resign her seat saying her constituents did not vote for a Conservative MP.
He said he was confident the SNP could win any by-election and her decision was a “betrayal” of activists who had campaigned for her election.
The Yousaf’s comments came just a week after Labour decimated the SNP vote and won the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election.
He said: “To see somebody who claims to have supported Scottish independence cross the floor to the Conservative and Unionist Party betrays the fact that she probably never believed in the cause in the first place.”
Labour MP Ian Murray on Lisa Cameron’s defection
Reacting to news of the defection to his party, Prime Minister Sunak said: “I am delighted that Lisa Cameron has decided to join the Conservatives. She is a brave and committed constituency MP.
“Lisa is right that we should aim to do politics better, with more empathy and less division and a dedication to always doing what we think is right.
“I look forward to working with her on the disability issues she has championed so passionately in parliament, and on the issues that really matter to her constituent’s in East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow.
“Her decision is a sign that we are the party for those who will make constructive, long term decisions for a brighter future for the whole of the UK.”
An SNP spokesperson said Dr Cameron should “do the right thing” and step down to allow a by-election.
“The people of East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow will be appalled they are now represented a Conservative and Unionist MP,” they said.
“Her constituents elected an SNP MP not a Tory, and they deserve to have the democratic opportunity to elect a hard working SNP MP who will put the interests of Scotland first. On a personal basis, we wish her well.”
Labour claimed Dr Cameron’s defection shows that the SNP is “falling apart”.
Ian Murray MP, shadow Scotland secretary, said: “This bizarre move shows that the SNP is falling apart before our eyes.
While @mgshanks will be swearing into parliament on Monday as a Labour MP, Lisa Cameron will be crossing floor from the SNP to the Tories.— Ian Murray MP (@IanMurrayMP) October 12, 2023
The choice at the next general election couldn’t be starker. As Labour are set to get rid the Tories the SNP are joining them. https://t.co/T0pNR0mNnc
“The fact is that the SNP and the Tories are two sides of the same coin – putting the cause of division before the needs of the people.
“While the SNP and Tories compete to out-do each other in incompetence, Labour is focused on rebuilding our country and getting Britain its future back.
“Only a Scottish Labour MP will give the people of East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow the fresh start they deserve.”
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross and other MPs and MSPs welcomed the former nationalist.
Our comment on this morning's news that Lisa Cameron has joined the Tories: pic.twitter.com/DllAYuurfB— East Kilbride SNP (@EK_SNP) October 12, 2023
“It’s great to have Lisa Cameron on board,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“The Scot Tories will stand up for everyone who has been forgotten by the SNP to get the focus onto Scotland’s real priorities.”
Speaking to the Scottish Daily Mail she said: “I do not feel able to continue in what I have experienced as a toxic and bullying SNP Westminster group, which resulted in my requiring counselling for a period of 12 months in Parliament and caused significant deterioration in my health and wellbeing as assessed by my GP including the need for antidepressants.”
Her change of party comes on the day she was facing a selection battle to be the candidate in the west of Scotland seat.
She added that she will “never regret” her actions in “standing up for a victim of abuse at the hands of an SNP MP last year” but has “no faith remaining in a party whose leadership supported the perpetrator’s interests over that of the victims”.
Dr Cameron claimed that she had received no contact from the SNP’s leadership, but all other main political parties had contacted her to offer support.
“I am particularly grateful to the Prime Minister in valuing my continued contribution to Parliament as a health professional and in taking time to listen. It is the first time I have felt heard and shows positive, inclusive leadership in contrast to that which I have encountered in the SNP at Westminster over many years,” she said.
Her comments come ahead of an SNP conference where the focus will be on the party’s independence strategy.
She also spoke to the MailOnline about the “division” that the strive for independence has caused.
She said: “Families like mine experienced significant division regarding the issue of Independence. This has taken its toll and I have come to the conclusion that it is more helpful to focus my energies upon constructive policies that benefit everyone across the four nations of the UK, and to move towards healing these divisions for the collective good.
“Being in the SNP has been bad for my health. I will be taking time as advised to recuperate and will continue as always to focus upon serving my constituents.
“Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me who wishes to see a politics where victim blaming, and abuse is never tolerated.”
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