Party action

Fergus Ewing suspended by SNP over rebellions

Fergus Ewing
Fergus Ewing will have a right of appeal (pic: Terry Murden)

Former Scottish government minister Fergus Ewing has been suspended from the SNP for a week following a series of high profile criticisms of the party.

Mr Ewing faced action after voting against Green minister Lorna Slater in a no-confidence vote. He later called for a fresh SNP vote on the 2021 power-sharing Bute House Agreement with the Scottish Greens, who he described as “extremists”.

The motion calling for his suspension was tabled by the Conservatives in June, over the circular economy minister’s handling of the deposit return scheme.

Mr Ewing was represented at a hearing of the SNP’s Holyrood Group by John Campbell KC, who was previously counsel to the Holyrood inquiry.

A spokesperson for the group said: “At a meeting this evening, a proposal was carried to suspend Fergus Ewing from the SNP Holyrood Group for a period of one week.”

The proposal required a two-thirds majority threshold to carry, as stipulated in the group’s standing orders.

The sanction will apply pending a 14-day period, during which Mr Ewing can appeal the decision.

First Minister Humza Yousaf returned home due to illness before the vote and did not take part. His predecessor Nicola Sturgeon was also absent as she was hosting an event elsewhere in parliament.

Mr Ewing was supported by his sister and fellow SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing, former party leadership contender Kate Forbes and MSP Christine Grahame.

Mr Ewing, who served as rural economy secretary under Nicola Sturgeon, has criticised Scottish government policies on gender recognition reform and Highly Protected Marine Areas, as well as criticising ministers over a lack of progress on dualling the A9.

Last month, he rebelled against the government in a vote over calls for a 12-month delay to a short-term lets licensing scheme.

Mr Ewing, MSP for Inverness and Nairn has been a member of the parliament since it was created in 1999. He is the son of SNP icon Winnie Ewing, who died in June aged 93.

After last night’s vote he said was “literally born into the SNP”.

He added: “The SNP I joined would never have asked me, or indeed any other elected politician, to choose between loyalty to party and loyalty to constituents.

“Indeed in the old SNP it was always expected that country and constituency would come first. That is why the SNP, while often attacked, was always respected.”

Mr Ewing said he had always been loyal to the party as he felt it was attempting to “do the right thing by my constituents and for Scotland”.

He continued: “It was never an ordinary political party because it was one which put Scotland first.

“In good conscience this is no longer the case and it has nothing to do with personalities or my antipathy towards the Green Party.

After listing several policies he disagreed with Mr Ewing’s statement reflected on the dilemma he now faced.

It concluded: “I choose to defend my constituents and Iet the cards fall as they will.”

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