Angus MacNeil to stand as an independent following expulsion from the SNP

Angus MacNeil MP has been expelled from the SNP.Angus MacNeil MP has been expelled from the SNP.
Angus MacNeil MP has been expelled from the SNP.
First Minister Humza Yousaf said it was the ‘right thing’ to throw the long-standing Western Isles MP out of the party

Angus MacNeil is to stand as an independent candidate in the next general election after being expelled from the SNP as problems mount for First Minister Humza Yousaf.

Mr Yousaf said it was the “right thing” for the long-standing Western Isles MP to be thrown out of the party, after he refused to re-join its Westminster group following a suspension last month, but the Tories accused the First Minister of being unable to get on top of the “civil war engulfing the SNP”.

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Mr MacNeil is one of the SNP’s longest serving MPs, having first been elected to the House of Commons in 2005 but he was suspended from the party’s Westminster group in July after clashing with chief whip Brendan O’Hara.

Angus MacNeil. Photo PAAngus MacNeil. Photo PA
Angus MacNeil. Photo PA

It was alleged Mr MacNeil threatened Mr O’Hara during a confrontation, leading to him having the whip removed.

After serving his suspension he said he would continue to sit as an independent MP until at least October, saying he would only return once it is clear the SNP is pursuing Scottish independence.

However the party’s conduct committee met on Thursday to discuss the case, and decided to expel him from the party entirely.

Mr MacNeil said: “The summer of member expulsion has indeed come to pass as I have been expelled as a rank and file SNP member by a ‘member conduct committee’.

“I didn’t leave the SNP - the SNP have left me.

“I wish they were as bothered about independence as they are about me!”

He also tweeted a kangaroo emoji, referring to the way the conduct committee handled his case.

Shortly after the MP said he would now stand as an independent MP in the next general election.

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Mr Yousaf said he “absolutely understands” why the committee decided to expel Mr MacNeil.

Mr Yousaf was being interviewed by LBC’s Iain Dale at the Edinburgh Fringe when an audience member asked if expulsion from the SNP was the right way to deal with Mr MacNeil.

The First Minister said: “It was.

“I don’t understand his point about ‘the SNP left me’, he literally left the SNP, he literally wrote a public statement saying he was not taking the whip and not re-joining the SNP group.

“I’m afraid, as someone who has known Angus MacNeil for many years and continues to get on with him very well on a personal level, regardless of your longevity as an elected SNP MP, it is not up for you to decide to stop being SNP.

“Your constituents elected you on a party ticket, that’s why you were voted in.

“To suddenly say you will decide to re-join whenever, it has consequences.”

Mr Yousaf added: “I absolutely understand that decision.

“He had the opportunity to appeal and he had the opportunity to re-join, so it is the right thing.

“He is held to the same standard I would be as an elected politician in the SNP.”

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While out campaigning for the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election, Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said MPs should not be able to pick and choose when they hold the SNP whip.

The conduct committee decided Mr MacNeil had breached standard 13 of their member code of conduct, which says any member resigning from the Westminster group also owes a duty to the party to resign as an MP.

This rule also applies to MSPs and councillors within the SNP.

Speaking after he was expelled, a spokesperson for the SNP said: “Following the decision to resign from the SNP Westminster parliamentary group, and therefore no longer sit as an SNP MP, the unanimous decision of the SNP’s member conduct committee is that a breach of the code of conduct has occurred and Angus MacNeil MP has been expelled from the party.

“Mr MacNeil was given the opportunity to re-join the group, and subsequently chose not to attend the hearing.”

The news Mr MacNeil is to stand as an independent candidate will cause a headache for the SNP, not least because he won the seat in the 2019 election with 6,531 votes.

It will however be more welcome news for Scottish Labour, who are hoping their candidate, the Daily Record’s former Westminster editor Torcuil Crichton, will take the seat off of Mr MacNeil.

Labour came second in the 2019 election with 4,093 votes.

It is also adding more fuel to the fire for the Scottish Conservatives, who say the handling of Mr MacNeil’s suspension and subsequent expulsion shows just how bad the “civil war” within the SNP is.

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Meghan Gallacher MSP, the party’s deputy leader, said: “Angus MacNeil’s expulsion is further evidence of the civil war engulfing the SNP - and Humza Yousaf’s inability to quell it.

“On the very day the Western Isles MP was being shown the door, his erstwhile colleague Joanna Cherry was revealing the ‘toxic’ mood among SNP MPs and how she’d regularly been reduced to tears by colleagues.

“At the same time, Nicola Sturgeon was telling a Fringe show of her anguish at being arrested in the police probe of the party’s finances, while senior SNP figures were urging Humza Yousaf to end his destructive coalition with the extremist Greens.”

She added: “The contrast between his original decision to suspend Angus MacNeil for arguing with the chief whip, and taking no action against his predecessor following her arrest, spoke volumes.

“Humza Yousaf cuts a weak, inconsistent figure - a leader in name only, being buffeted by events rather than shaping them.”



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