SNP MSPs to meet next week to determine disciplinary action against rebel backbencher Fergus Ewing
SNP MSPs are set to meet next week to decide the immediate rate of rebel backbencher Fergus Ewing.
The meeting will be used to decide what disciplinary action to take after the former minister. Rebel backbencher Mr Ewing is widely expected to have the SNP whip removed – potentially for a limited period – after repeatedly voting against the Scottish Government.
It comes as Michelle Thomson, SNP MSP for Falkirk East, said it would be “unwise and unnecessary” to suspend Mr Ewing from the party.
Mr Ewing has been outspoken on a series of Government policies, including the deposit return scheme, highly-protected marine areas, and the Bute House Agreement, which formally brought the Scottish Greens into government for the first time.
The Inverness and Nairn MSP has also criticised the Government for delays to dualling the A9 between his constituency and Perth.
In June he was expected to be disciplined after voting against the Government in a vote of no confidence in Green minister Lorna Slater, something First Minister Humza Yousaf has called “very, very serious”.
An immediate sanction did not transpire, as his mother Winnie Ewing died shortly after the vote.
Ms Thomson said he should not be suspended, as there was a new culture within the group at Holyrood.
Speaking to the Holyrood Sources podcast, Ms Thomson said: “In Humza Yousaf’s defence, I can absolutely say that I have a much greater sense of people being able to come out and say, ‘look, this feels wrong, this feels difficult’.
“I can honestly say that I didn’t think that was the case before, that people were reluctant to come forward and express different views, and where they did so, they felt as though they were discouraged, and fundamentally that it might be a kind of career terminating move for them to do that.”
Ms Thomson said there was “sensible dialogue” going on behind-the-scenes in the SNP. She said the SNP realised there could be negative implications for suspending such a “highly experienced” and “strong character”.
Ms Thomson, who was Kate Forbes’s campaign manager in the SNP leadership race, was then asked if she would be upset if Mr Ewing was suspended.
She said: “I think it would be unwise and unnecessary in ideal circumstances. Dialogue’s absolutely everything because I don’t perceive that there’s still a split.
“What I perceive is that the situation that existed formerly, where there wasn’t the same freedom to discuss, is changing, and that’s the positive thing that I’m highlighting.
“I don’t sense myself, even though as you know I was Kate’s campaign manager, that I experience any animosity.”
Ms Thomson previously called for former first minister Nicola Sturgeon to be suspended after she was arrested as part of the Operation Branchform police investigation into party finances.
While on the podcast, Ms Thomson said Mr Yousaf now needed to be quicker and clearer on his policy priorities, adding people needed to develop an “emotional connection” in him as the “front man” of the SNP.
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