MP Angus MacNeil will not re-join SNP group after suspension

Angus MacNeil has said he will not sit in the Commons as an SNP MP (PA)
Angus MacNeil has said he will not sit in the Commons as an SNP MP (PA)

Angus MacNeil has announced he will not re-join the SNP group after he has completed a suspension this week as he criticised the party’s policy on achieving Scottish independence.

The Western Isles MP was kicked out of the party’s Westminster group for a week after a reported clash with chief whip Brendan O’Hara.

But in a letter published on his Twitter account, Mr MacNeil – a frequent critic of the SNP’s independence approach in recent times – said the “urgency for independence is absent”.

“I will only seek the SNP whip again if it is clear that the SNP are pursuing independence,” he wrote.

“At the moment, the SNP has become a brand name missing the key ingredient. The urgency for independence is absent.”

He added: “The Scottish Government went to the Supreme Court a year ago utterly clueless about how to pursue independence, left the Supreme Court utterly clueless about how to pursue independence.

“The SNP still have no clear understanding that it has to use elections to negotiate Scottish independence from Westminster by getting the backing of the majority of the electorate.

“The SNP members must have a say at conference on the policy direction, which it hasn’t until now.”

The “trick of the last six years of kicking the can down the road has not served Scotland well”, he said.

But the MP, who has sat in the House of Commons since 2005, said he would stand again in the next election, “and I hope for clarity on independence after the October conference that I will be standing for the SNP”.

Alba Party Westminster leader Neale Hanvey – himself a defector from the SNP – described Mr MacNeil as an “outstanding independence MP, honest, forthright and brave”.

He added: “The total confusion over independence strategy is causing fundamental problems for the SNP.”

Mr Hanvey went on to urge the SNP to “re-dedicate itself to its historic mission of independence”.