Joanna Cherry: Tory minister ‘appeared to take a nap’ during SNP speeches

Edinburgh South West Constituency Joanna Cherry. Picture; Lisa Ferguson

Edinburgh South West Constituency Joanna Cherry. Picture; Lisa Ferguson

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A Tory minister has been accused of taking a nap on the Government’s front bench during SNP speeches in this week’s marathon Brexit debate.

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Deputy Commons Leader Michael Ellis came under fire from SNP MP Joanna Cherry, who said Mr Ellis “appeared to be taking a nap while I and my SNP colleagues were speaking”.

Ms Cherry, the party’s justice and home affairs spokeswoman, has now pressed the Government for a debate on “how we keep members of the Tory front bench awake” when discussing important matters for Scotland.

Speaking during the Business statement, Commons Leader David Lidington said his colleague had been “concentrating hard” during SNP speeches, adding the Government was committed to ensuring Scotland gets a good deal after Brexit.

MPs this week supported legislation that would enable Prime Minister Theresa May to trigger Article 50, after 17 hours of debate spread across two days.

Edinburgh South West MP Ms Cherry said: “Can we have a debate about how we keep members of the Tory front bench awake when important matters regarding the future of Scotland are concerned?

“I had a number of emails and communications from concerned constituents who were watching television last night and observed that the Deputy Leader of the House appeared to be taking a nap while I and my SNP colleagues were speaking.

“When the Secretary of State for Scotland can’t be bothered to attend a debate, does the Leader of the House agree with me that it’s important that his colleagues remain awake, no matter how dismissive they might be of Scotland’s interests?”

In reply, cabinet minister Mr Lidington said: “He was concentrating hard on the words of the honourable lady and her colleagues, as he always does.

“I can assure her, in all seriousness, that the Prime Minister has made clear to every member of the cabinet that she regards it as of vital importance in the forthcoming negotiations that we all have in our minds all the time the interests of all parts of the United Kingdom, as we approach the different aspects of that policy negotiation.”

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