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SNP’s ‘shameful’ bid to shield new leader from FMQs fails

The Scottish Conservatives today scuppered a “shameful” SNP effort to shield the next First Minister from scrutiny by having their maiden FMQs on Thursday week cancelled.

Minister for parliamentary business George Adam put the unprecedented proposal to the Presiding Officer but was forced to drop it after vehement opposition from Scottish Conservative chief whip Alexander Burnett and other parties.

If successful, the move would have seen the next SNP leader evade questioning until Thursday April 20, because of the Easter recess which begins at the end of next week.

Nicola Sturgeon’s successor will be announced on Monday and is expected to be formally appointed First Minister on Tuesday, so there was no good reason – or historical precedent – for them not to face FMQs two days later.

Scottish Conservative chief whip Alexander Burnett said: “This shameful attempt to hide the First Minister from scrutiny was a new low – even for a party as obsessed as the SNP are with secrecy and spin.

“It was an outrageous affront to democracy that Nationalist business managers even attempted this stunt.

“This was totally unprecedented and unacceptable – every new First Minister or Prime Minister has faced parliamentary scrutiny whenever their first FMQs or PMQs has happened to fall.

“Nicola Sturgeon did her first FMQs on 20 November 2014, the day after becoming First Minister.

“But this cowardly move tells you everything about the current state of the SNP.

“The leadership election has revealed a party in the grip of a civil war.

“The candidates have been kicking lumps out of each other, trashing Nicola Sturgeon’s record and questioning the integrity of the election itself, while the SNP’s chief executive and top spin doctor have resigned for lying to the media and party members. 

“The new First Minister may not want to face the music over this carnage at FMQs but it’s part of the job – and the SNP have been forced to accept he or she can’t be hidden away.”