Stephen Flynn warns Labour and Tories public ‘won’t forgive’ them if they fail to act on energy bills

The SNP Westminster leader also declined to oppose the Rosebank oil field.

Stephen Flynn has warned Labour and the Tories that the public “won’t forgive” them if they fail to act on energy bills.

The SNP Westminster leader, whose party is calling for a £400 energy rebate to be introduced, urged his political rivals to “step up”, predicting they’d only end up backing more support come winter.

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Speaking to The Scotsman, Mr Flynn also appeared to hint Angus MacNeil, who has been expelled from the party, has no path back to the Westminster group.

Calling for the two main parties to act on energy bills, Mr Flynn warned the cost of living was the biggest issue on the doorstep both in Scotland and “probably” the UK.

He said: “I think it’s clear the SNP have got a proposal on the table, we want the UK Government to put £400 into each and every person’s pocket off their energy bills, because we all know that winter is going to be very challenging for people again, in the midst of the current situation, with interest rates rising, mortgage rising, food costs.

“I think it’s inconceivable that we can continue to have silence from the Tories on this as if nothing is happening, and similarly from the Labour party.

“People are crying out for policy and solutions to the cost of living crisis. The challenge we’ve laid out to Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer is the public won’t forgive them if they don’t act in a time of need, that’s why politicians must rise to the occasion.”

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn with SNP candidate for Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election, Katy Loudon.SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn with SNP candidate for Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election, Katy Loudon.
SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn with SNP candidate for Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election, Katy Loudon.

Mr Flynn also predicted both parties to U-turn and announce funding at the last minute.

He added: “Nobody can escape the reality of whatever door you knock on in Scotland, and probably elsewhere in the UK as well, the first thing people say to you is ‘the cost of living crisis is crippling us, what are you going to do about it?’

“We know the Tories have a legacy on energy bills of not doing that, and leaving things till the last minute because there’s no alternative.

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“At what point will Keir Starmer say he’s going to step up to the plate and stand with the public?”.

Speaking in a week both the SNP and Labour conducted a reshuffle of their top team, Mr Flynn accused Sir Keir of “trying to paint himself as the Blairite successor”, adding this would not “go down too well” in Scotland.

Asked about Labour’s polling, which has seen them lead in the UK and gain on the SNP in Scotland, Mr Flynn pointed to the SNP still leading north of the border, despite the “challenges” the party has faced.

He said: “Labour are behind in Scotland, despite all the challenges the Scottish National Party has faced internally over the course of the last six, seven months.“Labour will continue to be behind in Scotland because voters are quite clear they want politics that gives them opportunity, which protects them when they need protection through a social security system, and offers them that real chance for change”.Challenged on why this wasn’t translating to polls in England, the SNP Westminster leader suggested it by appealing to a voter base that wasn’t prominent in Scotland.He said: “Keir Starmer went from being a man who was fully supportive of EU membership, who, in a pretty cowardly political move to gain votes in England, has said that he is quite happy to accept the damage that’s been done to the economy and the impact that’s had on everyone’s lives.

“It is quite clear he is happy to appeal to a voter base which I don’t think is a dominant one in Scottish politics. It gives us a clear indication of what we probably already know is the case, people in Scotland tend to vote in a slightly different way to folk in England”.

Mr Flynn also vented his frustration with the Westminster process, and explained he was making a deliberate effort to criticise Labour as much as the Tories.He said: “Westminster politics makes me angry. The reason I’ve raised issues with the Labour party as much as the Conservative party is that many of their policies mean they’re almost indistinguishable”.

There was also a response to comments made by SNP MP Douglas Chapman last week in The Scotsman, where he criticised the party for not doing enough on independence, and claimed he didn’t understand why it spent so long speaking about Brexit. He also expressed hope Mr MacNeil could return to the Westminster group, something the Dundee United fan appeared to rule out.

He said: “Everything I do, and all my colleagues do, is focusing on highlighting the problems with this place and making sure that Scotland’s voice is heard.

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“We have a lot of problems in society, if you look at the cost of food, that’s linked to leaving the European Union, folks food staples are more expensive now. Look at the energy crisis, that comes from decades of failed Westminster energy policy, despite the fact that Scotland’s energy rich.“We’re all frustrated that we aren’t independent, but we need to work together to make sure we get to that point”.

On Mr MacNeil, he insisted he was “fond” of the Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP, as were most of his colleagues.

He added: “We found ourselves in a situation where Angus is no longer a member of the Scottish National Party, and from my perspective where we need to be is focusing on the Scottish National Party members, and making sure we return a Scottish National Party voice at the next election”.In a sign of the debate inside the SNP on energy, Mr Flynn also declined to agree with the First Minister’s comments that he was “not convinced” the huge Rosebank oil field planned off Shetland should go ahead.

Asked if he agreed, Mr Flynn discussed his wider approach. He said: “We need to have an evidence based approach to energy, we need to be making our decisions based on energy security. We need to be making our decisions based on whether collectively we can meet our obligations on our climate change commitments. We need to be making decisions based on whether what is being proposed allows us to retain the very people who would be so key to that energy transition as well. That’s my key thing”.

The week also saw Mr Flynn host a seminar with Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank in parliament.

He said: “It was a real privilege for me, especially given the SNP is unashamedly pro-European.

“To have the opportunity to chair a seminar where Christine Lagarde was able to set out her views and relation on some of the biggest topics of the day was phenomenally important, and I think it shows Scotland can have and will have a better future as part of the European Union”.



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