PMQs debut

Flynn tells Sunak to ‘up his game’ after new poll

Stephen Flynn debut as Westminster leader
Stephen Flynn making his debut as the SNP Westminster Leader

New SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn used his debut appearance at Prime Minister’s Questions to urge Rishi Sunak to ‘up his game’ and respond to a new poll showing a rise in support for Scottish independence.

Mr Flynn, who was elected yesterday to lead the 44-strong bloc of SNP MPs, paid tribute to his “friend” and predecessor Ian Blackford, describing him as a “giant of the Scottish independence movement”.

He quickly turned his focus on what Mr Sunak considered the Tories’ achievements in government since 2019: “Leaving the single market and customs union? Ending freedom of movement? Denying Scotland her democracy? Or getting the Labour party to agree with all of the above?”

Mr Sunak replied that he “looked forward to constructive debate” with Mr Flynn, adding “the thing we are most proud of is protecting this country through the pandemic with furlough and the fastest vaccine roll-out”.

Mr Flynn said: “Far be it for me to offer advice to a near-billionaire but he’s going to have to up his game. And here’s why, because in the last 15 minutes a poll has landed which shows the support for Scottish independence has now hit 56% and support for the Scottish National Party sits north of 50%.

“So in that context can I ask the Prime Minister does he consider that increasing energy bills on households in energy-rich Scotland by a further £500 will cause those poll numbers to rise or fall?”

Mr Sunak said the UK Government was providing £55bn of support across the UK, saving a typical homeowner £900 a year. It was an example of the UK and the union delivering for Scotland.

The Ipsos’ Scottish Political Monitor in partnership with STV News shows a 12% lead opening up for independence. There has also been a fall in support for those arguing there should never be a referendum, down by five points to just 26%.

The poll is one of the first significant tests of public opinion since the Supreme Court ruled against the Scottish Government being able to stage a referendum on independence without first securing a Section 30 order from the UK Government.

Scottish Greens MSP Ross Greer said the new research demonstrated how the UK Government’s policy of blocking Scottish democracy was in fact strengthening support for the independent movement.

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