SNP have become 'whining voice' of Scotland and MPs are ‘wasting chance’ to improve country from Westminster, Scottish MP claims

The SNP are “wasting their chance” to improve Scotland from Westminster, a Lib Dem MP has claimed.

Christine Jardine claimed she couldn’t think of a single achievement by Nicola Sturgeon’s party since 2015, accusing them of “whining” instead of helping.

The Edinburgh West MP also criticised the “toxic” debate around trans people amid the ongoing debate around the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill, and claimed she had “no concerns” about her rights being impacted by the legislation.

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Speaking exclusively to Scotland on Sunday, Jardine claimed the SNP MPs in Westminster were now an “unhappy group” and questioned how much they were achieving. Today marks two months since Stephen Flynn officially took over from Ian Blackford as the SNP’s Westminster group leader.

Christine Jardine MP claimed the SNP had achieved very little in Westminster.Christine Jardine MP claimed the SNP had achieved very little in Westminster.
Christine Jardine MP claimed the SNP had achieved very little in Westminster.

“My priority is making the most of everything in Scotland and the lack of representation in those SNP seats at Westminster,” she said.

“They are always concerned with independence. Every single time they speak about anything, every time they have a motion when they could actually do something about the cost-of-living crisis or energy prices, it always comes back to independence.

“I remember when they were elected in 2015 when there was a big surge and they had this stronger voice for Scotland, they were gonna be Scotland's voice in Westminster.

"All they’ve done is whine, they’ve become a whining voice for Scotland. They whine about absolutely everything, but they don't actually come forward. I can't remember a single thing that the Scottish national party has actually achieved in Westminster since 2015.

"I remember recently, they had a debate, and it was an opposition day debate and these things are valuable, yet again we ended up talking about separatism rather than ‘how do we improve the lives of people in Scotland?’”

Jardine also explained the issue was not just political, but personal to her, believing the union was genuinely better for the people of Scotland. She said: "I've never said Scotland couldn't be independent. Scotland could be independent, I just don't think it's the best way.

"I think it's best for you and I, for everybody in Scotland, and for my daughter, the rest of my family, I want the best. I want the best for them and I want the best for everybody else in Scotland and that's what I think we were elected to do.”

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The Lib Dem spokesperson for women and equalities, Jardine also confirmed there were no splits on gender recognition reform in her party, pointing to it being in the party manifesto.

She criticised the tone of the debate around trans people, and said she wasn’t concerned at all about her rights being impacted.

Her comments come amid the ongoing spat between Westminster and Holyrood over the use of a section 35 order to block the GRR Bill. Ms Sturgeon has said the matter will “inevitably” end up in the courts. Her Government has said it intends to lodge a judicial appeal, although the timing is yet to be confirmed.

Jardine said: “Personally, I feel too much has been said, there’s been too many arguments, and it’s become a bitter nasty toxic debate,” she said. “People have lost sight of what it was that it was actually trying to do. It was an attempt to improve the lives of the transgender community.

"People have concerns and we need to listen to those concerns on both sides. We need to step back, we need to calm down. We need to listen and we need to try to find a progressive way forward that will help and improve the lives of a very vulnerable section of our community.

"But at the same time, reassure those people who are concerned about women’s rights. I'm not concerned about my rights, as a woman. I am reassured by everything I've read about it.”

Speaking shortly after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak conducted his mini-reshuffle, Jardine praised the creation of a department for energy, but suggested the ministerial moves were a “waste of money”.

Following sacking disgraced former party chairman Nadhim Zahawi, the Prime Minister this week created four new UK Government departments aimed at boosting economic growth and addressing the energy crisis.

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Former trade minister Greg Hands was elevated to the role of party chairman, Lee Anderson came in as his deputy, and Grant Shapps was named energy security and net zero secretary.

Jardine said: “I genuinely thought ‘what a waste of money’. I do think it's important that we have an energy department, we had one when we were in the coalition and [Lib Dems leader] Ed Davey was the Secretary of Steve for energy and climate change. “But the money that has been spent on shuffling ministers could have been better spent at the moment.

“I was a bit surprised about Lee Anderson, but I think it says a lot about the Government who they have in place. The main thing is it's a lot of money that they have spent that could have bought a lot of free meals for school kids, it could have helped some people with their energy bills.”

The Lib Dems estimate the £60 million being spent to make the four new departments and move ministers could have paid for 25 million school meals.

Under the Cabinet reshuffle, Kemi Badenoch, who was international trade secretary, will now lead the joint Department for Business and Trade, Lucy Frazer steps up as culture secretary and Michelle Donelan moved from culture to the new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.

Asked about the appointments, Jardine claimed it was not a lack of talent that was the problem, but the direction of the Tory party.

"When I look at the Conservative party now, I do still see talented people, but what I see is that an awful lot of the people who are in positions are not saying things that I recognise as being old-fashioned, one nation conservatism that my parents voted for,” she said.

"They’ve moved to the right. I'm more concerned with what they do, than what they look like, and I'm very disappointed with some of the things that they have done”.



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