Commons rejected

Sturgeon snubs MPs to appear on TV show

Nicola Sturgeon on Loose Women

Nicola Sturgeon turned down an invitation to address a House of Commons committee yesterday to appear on a series of TV shows.

The outgoing First Minister was asked by SNP MP Pete Wishart to appear before the Scottish Affairs Committee.

Instead she used her “farewell tour” to take in a number of other engagements in London including an appearance the ITV lunchtime chat show Loose Women. She also gave a speech at the Royal Society of Arts.

Mr Wishart sent an invitation on 1 March to his party leader asking her to answer questions from MPs. Welsh FM Mark Drakeford previously appeared before the Welsh Affairs Committee.

“We hope that in the final weeks of your premiership, you will grant a hearing with us, to reflect on your time as First Minister of Scotland,” Mr Wishart wrote. 

“Other House of Commons Committees that work closely with Governments across the UK have held informative, engaging, and useful evidence sessions with respective First Ministers.

“This includes the Welsh Affairs Committee, which was attended by Rt Hon Mark Drakeford MS, First Minister of Wales, on three separate occasions during this Parliament, and we are keen to emulate that successful model.

“We hope that you will accept our invitation on this occasion, following which we will seek to make further arrangements to find a suitable date for the evidence session to take place.”

But in her reply on 14 March thanking Mr Wishart for his invitation, Ms Sturgeon replied: “Unfortunately, I will be unable to take up your invitation as my diary is full over my final two weeks in office, as I focus on ensuring a smooth transition to my successor.

“Also, any policy specific questions will be a matter for the incoming First Minister. I wish you and the Committee well in your ongoing work.”

However, it is not the first time Ms Sturgeon has snubbed the Scottish Affairs Committee. She was sent an invitation on 1 November 2021 but did not reply until May 2022. She drew the committee’s attention to her appearance before the Scottish Parliament Conveners Committee on 2 March 2022.

In its response last May, the Scottish Affairs Committee said it was “disappointed that the First Minister has declined the invitation and that it took so long to secure a reply to the invitation.”

Mr Wishart said at the time: “The invitation remains open to the First Minister and we hope that some time in the future she may be in a position to reconsider her decision.”

He pointed out that the UK Parliament has inquiries and reports on universities, renewable energy and public sector broadcasting issues that cut across responsibilities of both Parliaments.However, she did not take up the offer.

Pete Wishart
Disappointed: Pete Wishart

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, who is a member of the Scottish Affairs Committee, said yesterday: “It’s disappointing that Nicola Sturgeon couldn’t find time while in London for a busy schedule of chat show appearances and farewell interviews to accept the committee’s invitation.

“Despite being a serial critic of all things Westminster, the First Minister has repeatedly snubbed requests to appear before the Scottish Affairs Committee.”

Despite not finding time to attend he House of Commons it is not the first time Ms Sturgeon has used a visit to London to appear on Loose Women, having appeared last April.

Yesterday she told the audience that the SNP is not “in a mess”, as stated by interim chief executive Mike Russell, but is going through “growing pains”.

The party has lost 32,000 members since December 2021, which the party had denied to a newspaper.

When the party later admitted the figure was true the chief executive Peter Murrell – who is Ms Sturgeon’s husband – took responsibility for misleading the media and resigned.

It is understood he he had been set to face a vote of no confidence by the National Executive Committee (NEC) had he not stepped down.

The first minister was asked about Mr Russell’s remarks during an appearance on ITV’s Loose Women.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Mike was referring to some of the issues around the leadership race.

“The SNP is not in a mess, it’s going through some growing pains right now – they are necessary but they’re difficult. But I’m stepping down from a party that hasn’t lost an election since 2010 in Scotland.”

Despite her love of the studio lights she said she would not follow in the footsteps of Matt Hancock who took part in ITV’s I’m A Celebrity reality show, adding: “I can say categorically, definitely no Strictly, definitely no jungle.

Asked “What about Bake Off?”, she said: “I can’t cook or bake.”

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