THOUSANDS of new members have signed up to the SNP in the wake of the party’s dramatic Westminster walk-out.
Nationalist MPs stormed out of the Commons after their Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, was ordered to leave the chamber following a row with the Speaker.
Since then, the SNP said its membership has surged by 5,085 in just 24 hours – putting it on the cusp of being the second largest party in the UK, ahead of the Conservatives.
Deputy leader Keith Brown said the SNP was “the only party standing up for Scotland and doing all we can to defend the powers of our Parliament”.
Mr Blackford was ordered to leave during Prime Minister’s Questions after clashing with Commons Speaker John Bercow.
The SNP Westminster leader had accused the UK Government of plunging Scotland into a “constitutional crisis” over its decision to push on with its Brexit Bill despite Holyrood withholding consent.
He attempted to use a parliamentary device by calling for an immediate vote on turning PMQs into a private session. But after repeatedly refusing to sit down, Mr Blackford was ordered to leave the Commons – with the rest of his party’s MPs quickly following suit.
Mr Brown said: “The Tories think they can do what they want to Scotland and get away with it, but Scotland has told the Tories loudly and clearly – hands off our parliament.
“It’s no wonder people are joining the SNP in their droves – we are the only party standing up for Scotland and doing all we can to defend the powers of our Parliament. That is why 5,085 people have joined the party in the last 24 hours.
“As the SNP made clear at PMQs yesterday, this Tory power grab will not be tolerated and we will fight tooth and nail to defend the powers that are rightly held by Holyrood.”
It is understood around 50-100 normally join or rejoin the SNP on any given day.
It comes as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned the Tories will pay “a very, very heavy political price” for their handling of the Brexit Bill.
Ms Sturgeon said Theresa May’s party had effectively “ripped up” the convention underpinning devolution, and “hoped that nobody would notice”.
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, she said events at Westminster this week were “the most clear and powerful evidence so far” that the system does not work for Scotland.
She addressed MSPs shortly after crowds gathered outside Holyrood to protest against what the SNP claims is a “Westminster power grab”.
The party’s MPs were left outraged on Tuesday evening when amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill affecting Scotland were passed after less than 20 minutes of debate, with the only speech being from Cabinet Office minister David Lidington.
Mr Blackford has warned the SNP will now take “whatever action is necessary” to press its case, and will work to “frustrate” Theresa May’s administration.
Source : HeraldScotland