POLITICS
16/12/2020 20:00 GMT

SNP MP Suspended From Commons After Mace-Wielding Brexit Protest

Deputy speaker calls Drew Hendry "very childish".

Drew Hendry, SNP MP
Drew Hendry, SNP MP

SNP MP Drew Hendry has been suspended from the Commons for refusing to stop a loud protest over Brexit legislation. 

The party’s business spokesman could be heard shouting “this is an outrage” as a debate on the controversial Internal Market Bill came to a close on Thursday.

Deputy speaker Dame Rosie Winterton told Hendry to sit down but the MP refused before proceeding to pick up the parliamentary mace and walk towards the door of the chamber.

He was stopped by the doorkeepers, who took the mace from him.

MPs could be heard describing Hendry’s actions as “outrageous” and referring to it as “another boring stunt”.

Winterton called the incident “very childish”, before undertaking the formal procedure of “naming” Hendry in order to suspend him for the rest of the day. 

The mace is the symbol of royal authority and without it neither House can meet or pass laws.

The Bill sets out how trade within the UK will operate post-Brexit, but critics feared the legislation in its original form represented a power grab by Westminster at the expense of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Following a number of defeats by the House of Lords and extensive debate and negotiations, the government had a rethink and made changes that will allow the devolved administrations agreed divergence from internal market rules through so-called common frameworks.

During the earlier debate, as MPs discussed the concessions before signing off the Bill, Hendry warned: “The only reason for this Bill as it now stands is to demolish devolution.

“If the government takes this Bill forward today, as they obviously will, that is what they will be doing.”

He added: “People in Scotland when they see the effects of this Bill will be angry about the fact that their rights are being taken away by these Tory ministers aided by their Labour bedfellows.

“They will be furious about the fact that their rights are being stripped from them and they’re listening and they’re watching and they’re seeing developments in this place and they’re understanding now that the only way to protect their Parliament, to protect their rights, to protect their democracy in Scotland is to go forward as an independent nation and they’ll be voting for that I’m sure in due course.”

The SNP’s Mike Russell, the constitution secretary for the Scottish Government, praised Hendry for “speaking truth to power”.

He wrote on Twitter: “Congratulations to him.

“The Bill is undemocratic and undermines the rights of all Scottish & Welsh citizens. Legislative consent has been rejected by @ScotParl & @SeneddWales.

“The Tory UK government should have withdrawn it.”

Following his suspension, Hendry said: “This dangerous piece of legislation will enable Westminster ministers to have the right to override the decisions of the Scottish parliament by imposing lower food, environmental and other devolved standards on Scotland – regardless of the view of Holyrood.

“It undermines devolved policy making, grabs spending powers and removes state aid from being a devolved responsibility. It needs to be ditched.”