SNP’s Ian Blackford forced to withdraw claim Theresa May was lying in Brexit debate

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford
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The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford was forced to withdraw an accusation that the Prime Minister was a “liar” as she appeared before MPs to ask for more time to renegotiate her Brexit deal.

Mrs May confirmed that there would be another round of votes on Brexit at the end of February, but offered no guarantee that a substantive ‘meaningful vote’ on a deal would take place by then.

After being accused by the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of trying to “run down the clock”, the Prime Minister provoked anger by saying: “I wanted to have this sorted before Christmas. It’s not me who wants to run down the clock.”

In his response to Mrs May’s statement, Mr Blackford said: “Sometimes I think the Prime Minister must live in a parallel universe.

“We’ve just heard from the Prime Minister that she wanted this concluded in December. Talk about rewriting history.”

READ MORE: Theresa May urges MPs to hold their nerve over Brexit

Visibly angry as he addressed Mrs May directly, in breach of parliamentary convention, Mr Blackford went on: “It was the Prime Minister that denied us the right to have the meaningful vote and to try and rewrite history, and she sits there laughing, sometimes you should be honest with yourself, never mind being honest with the people of the United Kingdom.”

Mr Blackford added: “Ultimately, Scotland will have a choice - an independent European nation or remaining part of an inward-looking UK. Scotland’s voices must be respected, Prime Minister.”

As Mrs May began to reply that Mr Blackford had “inadvertently misled the house” by saying the government had not carried out economic analysis of its Brexit deal, the SNP MP shouted “that’s not true”.

There was uproar on the Tory benches when he was then heard to shout “liar”.

READ MORE: Households £1500 worse off after Brexit

Speaker John Bercow insisted Mr Blackford withdraw the remark. The SNP leader stood up and told Mr Bercow: “Out of courtesy to yourself, I withdraw.”

In her statement, the Prime Minister called on MPs to “hold their nerve” and come together to ensure Brexit is delivered on time on March 29.

She acknowledged that she would need “some time” to hold talks with the EU, and said that a planned Commons debate on Thursday will be on an amendable motion reaffirming the House’s decision on January 29 that it supported the Government’s efforts to find an alternative for the Irish border ‘backstop’.

Mrs May pledged to return to Parliament on February 26, if no deal has been secured before that time, to report back on progress and trigger a further MPs’ vote the following day.

“We now all need to hold our nerve to get the changes this House requires and deliver Brexit on time,” she told the Commons.

“By getting the changes we need to the backstop; by protecting and enhancing workers’ rights and environmental protections; and by enhancing the role of Parliament in the next phase of negotiations I believe we can reach a deal that this House can support.

“We can deliver for the people and the communities that voted for change two-and-a-half years ago - and whose voices for too long have not been heard.

“We can honour the result of the referendum.

“And we can set this country on course for the bright future that every part of this United Kingdom deserves.

“That is this Government’s mission. We shall not stint in our efforts to fulfil it.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said MPs were being “blackmailed” by the fear of a no-deal Brexit into supporting “a deeply flawed deal”.

“This is an irresponsible act,” said Mr Corbyn. “She is playing for time and playing with people’s jobs, our economic security and the future of our industry.”