Nicola Sturgeon backs Cunningham amid indyref2 debate row

Nicola Sturgeon says Roseanna Cunningham has her full confidence. Picture: John Devlin
Nicola Sturgeon says Roseanna Cunningham has her full confidence. Picture: John Devlin
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Nicola Sturgeon’s spokesman has said the First Minister has confidence in a Cabinet minister who objected to the suspension of the Scottish Parliament following the Westminster terror attacks.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham was seen gesticulating angrily at the Conservative benches after it was announced a Holyrood debate on Scottish independence would be halted out of respect for the victims of the atrocity unfolding in London.

Ms Cunningham objected to the suspension on the basis that parliamentary business should not be stopped in the face of terrorism.

After the altercation, which took place once parliamentary microphones had been switched off, Conservative MSPs privately claimed that Ms Cunningham had suggested Tories wanted to halt the debate because it was about independence. That claim was vigorously denied by Ms Sturgeon’s spokesman.

At a Scottish Government briefing Ms Sturgeon’s spokesman answered “yes” when asked if the First Minister had confidence in the Environment Secretary.

Ms Cunningham repeatedly refused to apologise when challenged by journalists at Holyrood yesterday.

She referred journalists to a statement released by her spokesman, which said: “Roseanna’s first thoughts are with all of those affected, and while she did initially take the view – shared by some from other parties – that business should not be suspended in the face of terrorism, she fully supports the decision (to suspend parliament) given the seriousness of events.”