Flynn and Yousaf choose their own priorities

Change of focus: Humza Yousaf and Stephen Flynn

A potential new division in the SNP has emerged after the Westminster leader Stephen Flynn reshuffled his front bench to shift the party’s focus away from independence and on to the economy.

Alongside his changes of personnel, Mr Flynn issued a statement stressing his decision to prioritise “the cost of living, energy and economic growth”.

Sources say it could put him at loggerheads with party leader Humza Yousaf who wants independence to be central to its campaigning.

In Mr Flynn’s shake-up, which includes the removal of MPs standing down at the general election, Brendan O’Hara has been moved to cover Foreign Affairs with Drew Hendry, the MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey, vacating that role to replace Stewart Hosie as Economy spokesman.

In his statement, Mr Flynn said his new team would “continue to put the Westminster-made cost of living crisis at the forefront of our work”.

His comments have also been seen as a criticism of Scottish government partners the Greens. “The SNP is the party with a plan to deliver strong economic growth — and reduce the cost of living,” he said.

“Scotland is an energy rich country with huge resources. By rejoining the EU, and investing in the renewable energy gold rush, we can build a wealthier, greener and fairer future.”

In other moves, Dave Doogan takes over as Energy spokesperson, with Amy Callaghan joining the frontbench as Health spokesperson and Anum Qaisar taking over as Levelling Up spokesperson.

Tommy Sheppard takes over as Scotland spokesperson, while David Linden, Alison Thewliss, Alyn Smith and Kirsten Oswald are among those staying in place as Social Justice spokesperson, Home Affairs spokesperson, Europe and EU Accession spokesperson, and Women and Equalities spokesperson, respectively.

Craig Hoy, the Scottish Conservative chairman, said Mr Flynn’s “instructions that his MPs should concentrate on the economy and not independence obviously haven’t made it to Humza Yousaf, who would rather go to rallies for the faithful than fix the mess the SNP has created in Scotland’s public services.”

Comment: Key to growth lies outside Scotland’s borders

Full list of the new SNP Westminster frontbench team

  • SNP Westminster Leader – Stephen Flynn MP
  • SNP Depute Westminster Leader – Mhairi Black MP
  • SNP Chief Whip – Owen Thompson MP
  • House of Commons Business spokesperson – Deidre Brock MP
  • Economy spokesperson – Drew Hendry MP
  • Levelling Up spokesperson – Anum Qaisar MP
  • Social Justice spokesperson – David Linden MP
  • Home Affairs spokesperson – Alison Thewliss MP
  • Justice and Immigration spokesperson – Chris Stephens MP
  • Attorney General spokesperson – Patricia Gibson MP
  • Europe and EU Accession spokesperson – Alyn Smith MP
  • Science, Innovation, Technology and Education spokesperson – Carol Monaghan MP
  • Scotland spokesperson – Tommy Sheppard MP
  • International Development Spokesperson – Anne McLaughlin MP
  • Foreign Affairs spokesperson – Brendan O’Hara MP
  • Women and Equalities spokesperson – Kirsten Oswald MP
  • Environment, Farming, Agriculture and Rural Affairs spokesperson – Steven Bonnar MP
  • Cabinet Office spokesperson – Kirsty Blackman MP
  • Business and Trade (N Ireland and Wales) spokesperson – Richard Thomson MP
  • Health spokesperson – Amy Callaghan MP
  • Transport spokesperson – Gavin Newlands MP
  • Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson – Dave Doogan MP
  • Digital, Culture, Media and Sport spokesperson – John Nicolson MP
  • Defence spokesperson – Martin Docherty-Hughes MP

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