In Brief

Surge in SNP membership after mass MP walkout

Commons protest branded ‘pre-prepared’ stunt by opponents

More than 5,000 people joined the SNP following Wednesday’s mass walkout by the party’s MPs from the House of Commons.

A party source told Sky News the surge in applications, which normally arrive at a rate of between 50 and 100 a day, was driven by a desire to unite against a “bazen power grab” by the Conservatives on Brexit.

All 35 SNP MPs walked out of the Commons chamber when their Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, was kicked out by the speaker during Prime Minister's Questions. Blackford was protesting against the decision to give MPs only an hour to consider more than 50 amendments to the Brexit bill on devolution.

SNP MPs were “furious”, says the BBC, after amendments affecting Scotland were passed after less than 20 minutes of debate the previous evening.

The passage of the amendments concerning devolution “were the first time that Westminster has over-ruled the Scottish Parliament”, reports The Scotsman.

Opponents branded the walkout a “pre-prepared stunt” aimed only at furthering the cause of independence, but Blackford has insisted the SNP will continue to “frustrate what the government are doing as much as we possibly can”. It is “not the end of the matter, it is the beginning”, he said.

Holyrood raised the prospect of a constitutional crisis last month when Scottish lawmakers refused to grant formal consent the EU Withdrawal Bill, the government’s primary piece of Brexit legislation.

The SNP, Greens, Labour and Lib Dems oppose plans for some powers that currently reside in Brussels to be returned to Westminster after Britain leaves the EU, rather than to Edinburgh.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon argued that this week's events had been “the most clear and powerful evidence so far that the Westminster system simply does not work for Scotland”.

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