Politics

5 of Ian Blackford's best moments as he is to stand down as SNP leader at Westminster

Ian Blackford resigns as SNP leader at Westminster

Ian Blackford is to stand down as leader of the SNP group at Westminster after five years in the role.

In a statement, Blackford said he believed it was time for "fresh leadership" and that he would formally stand down at the party's annual general meeting next week.

He said he would continue in his role as the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber and had also accepted a new role at the centre of the SNP's independence campaign.

Blackford said: "After more than five years in the role, now is the right time for fresh leadership at Westminster as we head towards a general election and the next steps in winning Scotland's independence.

"During my time as leader, the SNP won a landslide victory in the 2019 general election, with an increased share of the vote and MPs, and support for independence has continued to grow with polling this week showing a majority in favour."

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Indeed during his time as leader of the party he never shied away from the spotlight and frequently made headlines for his interventions in parliament, particular with Boris Johnson.

Here are some of his most memorable moments:

1. When he got kicked out of parliament over a Brexit row

In 2018, SNP MPs walked out of parliament during PMQs to protest Blackford being kicked out.

The leader was kicked out because he had refused to sit down when ordered to by John Bercow having asked for the Commons to sit in private.

This was in protest at a lack of debate on what he said was a "power grab" in the EU Withdrawal Bill.

Bercow said MPs could vote on the request for a private sitting at the end of PMQs - but when Blackford refused to sit back down he was suspended for the rest of the day's sitting.

His fellow SNP MPs followed him out of the chamber.


2. When he called Boris Johnson "racist"

In June 2019, when Johnson's premiership was in its infancy, Blackford brought up his old controversialTelegraph columns in which he made a number of dodgy comments about Muslim women, African people and homosexual men.

He said: "I ask does the prime minister realise, not only is the member racist, he is stoking division in communities, and has a record of dishonesty.

When he was challenged by the then speaker of the House John Bercow, who urged him to "be extremely careful in the language that he uses" and told him to "weigh his words", Blackford refused to withdraw his comments, saying:

"Mr Speaker I have informed the member, but the member has described Muslim women as 'letterboxes'; described African people as having 'watermelon smiles' and another disgusting slur that I would never dignify by repeating.

"If that's not racist, Mr Speaker, I don't know what is."


3. When he said workers didn't want a hug from Boris Johnson

In 2020, Johnson said the government would continue "to put our arms round the people in this country going through a very tough time" with schemes to keep people in work "and keep the economy moving" during Covid.

It was a metaphor, but the SNP leader didn't like it.

"That's so poor," Blackford said, before talking about the need to protect jobs "today". He called for the furlough scheme to be extended.

He said not doing so would put 61,000 jobs in Scotland "at risk".

"I can tell you the last thing those 61,000 Scots are looking for is a hug from you".

Savage stuff.


4. When he got kicked out of the commons for saying Boris Johnson "misled" the house

In January the SNP leader got into a spot of bother when he kept saying Johnson "misled" the house during a conversation about Partygate. Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle asked him to withdraw his comment and replace it with “inadvertently”, instead of just “misled the House”.

Blackford responded: “It’s not my fault if the prime minister can’t be trusted to tell the truth” and was booted out.

He received a lot of praise on social media, with commentators saying it was silly he had been removed.


5. When he compared Boris Johnson to 'Monty Python's Black Knight'

In June Blackford mocked Johnson over a no-confidence vote the former PM had just scraped through.

The Scottish politician compared the then PM to the Black Knight – a comedy character from the 1975 film Monty Python And The Holy Grail who gets all of his limbs chopped off in battle, before claiming that the mortal injuries are mere "flesh wounds".

He also called Johnson "a lame duck" PM.

We're sure Blackford won't be a wallflower as a backbencher MP and he will continue to get people talking.

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