Nicola Sturgeon Angry After ‘Anti-English’ Heckle From Tory MSP

First minister "deeply offended" by shouted comment in Scottish parliament.
Nicola Sturgeon speaks at the Scottish parliament during First Minister's Questions.
Nicola Sturgeon speaks at the Scottish parliament during First Minister's Questions.
JANE BARLOW via Getty Images

A Conservative member of the Scottish parliament has apologised after a shouted jibe at Nicola Sturgeon to suggest English people were not welcome to make Scotland their home.

The first minister said she was “deeply offended” by a heckle by Tess White during first minister’s questions (FMQs) which alleged Scotland is not welcoming to English people.

White, the newly-elected Scottish Conservative MSP for the North East region, has now apologised for the comments after admitting they were “over the line”.

The comment was shouted as Sturgeon responded to a question about alleged discriminatory chanting by Rangers fans, in which they were heard to sing “the famine is over, why don’t you go home”.

Sturgeon condemned anti-Irish racism and Catholic prejudice, but after she said Scotland “is home” to anyone who chooses to live here, White interjected to suggest that did not apply if you were English.

After MSPs in the debating chamber erupted into apparent outrage, Sturgeon then said: “I have just had a comment made to me from a sedentary position.

“I would not normally do this but I am so deeply offended by the comment that I do want – after this session – to take it up with you (the presiding officer) so that, with your permission, the member may be asked to reflect on that and to withdraw that comment.

“It was a comment that would have been unacceptable in any context, but in the context of what we are discussing right now I am deeply aggrieved that any member thought that was an appropriate thing to say.”

When parliamentary business resumed on Thursday afternoon, the offending MSP was called to “wholeheartedly” apologise.

White said: “My comments during First Minister’s Questions were over the line and I would like to withdraw them and apologise to both the chamber and the first minister.”

Scottish Labour’s Pauline McNeill had originally asked about the “public displays of anti-Irish racism and anti-Catholic prejudice” that resulted in three arrests and Rangers FC confirming indefinite bans for participants.


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