Other SNP leaders make Yousaf’s record look ‘stellar’, says Mordaunt

The Commons Leader aimed jibes at the Scottish Government during business questions in the Commons.

Humza Yousaf stepped down as Scottish first minister earlier this week
Humza Yousaf stepped down as Scottish first minister earlier this week (Jane Barlow/PA)

Previous SNP leaders and the new First Minister John Swinney make Humza Yousaf’s record look “stellar”, Penny Mordaunt told MPs.

The Commons Leader jibed that the former first minister is not Scotland’s worst leader of all time because he has not been arrested.

Meanwhile, SNP Commons leader Deirdre Brock said Ms Mordaunt is an “extraordinary recruiting sergeant for independence” in Scotland.

During business questions, Ms Brock said she was “delighted to see the Leader still in her place after her party’s catastrophic results” in last week’s local elections in England, adding: “Not catastrophic enough to mobilise her PM for PM rebels apparently.

Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt
Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“With her weekly ill-informed comments about Scotland, she is an extraordinary recruiting sergeant for independence, and I’m sure she won’t disappoint today.

“Can I also welcome, warmly, the launch by the Leader this week of the guide to recognising conspiracy theories such as those around 5G masts and 15-minute cities.

“It’ll be useful reading for some of the members on her own benches, and perhaps those on Labour’s increasingly busy right-wing.

“Given her personal interest in what’s supposed to be a central role of this House in protecting democracy and protecting us, will she be pressing for a wider debate on disinformation and the malign influence of secretive social media groups that perpetuate these damaging myths?

“I’m thinking, for example, of the 36 so-called grassroots Facebook groups I raised with the Prime Minister last week, forums full of vile racism, conspiracy theories, and Islamophobic of Sadiq Khan – all with links to Conservative Party HQ staff, activists and even politicians.

John Swinney became Scotland’s new First Minister this week
John Swinney became Scotland’s new First Minister this week (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“Now, there’s reason to suspect similar groups are quietly spreading their poison across the UK including in Scotland, wouldn’t the Leader agree this needs to be investigated and brought to light? Not laughed off as the Prime Minister did.”

Ms Mordaunt replied: “First of all, can I rejoice at the news that the Scottish Government no longer has a minister for independence? I was waiting this morning to discover why this would be my fault, but (Ms Brock) didn’t raise it.

“But I want to place on record my thanks to the former first minister for his service, I know there are many that would kick a man when he is down, but I will not, he has done his best.

“Some say he has been the worst SNP leader of all time, I say no – not only has he not managed to be arrested but other SNP leaders make his record look pretty stellar, the new First Minister for example, and I welcome him to his place.

“Can I, in all seriousness, welcome (Ms Brock)’s support for the education pamphlet on conspiracy theories, it is very important, it is a real threat, not just to democracy but also to the wellbeing of our constituents.

“It’s a form of radicalisation and it is spreading and we must do everything we can to combat it.”

Later in the session, Labour former minister Sir Chris Bryant called for a debate on “ministerial transparency”.

The Rhondda MP said: “Ordinary MPs have to register any hospitality that they receive from others parties within 28 days in considerable detail with the House.

“But under the scheme that she still favours, ministers have an exemption and they don’t have to publish anything for several months, and they don’t have to provide any details at all.

“She has said repeatedly in this House she would by last summer have made sure that there was a parallel system for ministers, so ministers weren’t being treated differently from MPs, that still hasn’t happened, so when is it going to happen?

“In the past, for instance, we learnt that the (former) home secretary (Dame Priti Patel) registered through the department that she’d gone to a Bond premiere, apparently because Bond exercises executive functions.”

Sir Chris also questioned a lunch Ms Mordaunt had with the Saints and Sinners Club, which she had listed in her register of interest.

Ms Mordaunt replied: “I have actually been reporting my return monthly, since the start of this year, and they’re not very exciting, but they are reported monthly and I think other departments are also being able to do that.

“The Saints and Sinners Club, I did a speech for charity, two charities benefited from it and they are in my Parliamentary register for interests.

“I know (Sir Chris) is keen on this and has campaigned on this issue for a long time, of course people do make mistakes, he himself was adrift two years on registering an overseas visit.

“But I am in favour of parity between ministerial reporting and Parliament.”