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MP Drew Hendry says outrage over the internal market bill sparked his protest but a Scottish Tory MSP suggests his behaviour was 'dangerous'


By Scott Maclennan

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Highland MP Drew has vowed to "always stand up for my constituents" after being suspended from the House of Commons for grabbing the Mace in protest at the UK Internal Market Bill.

The mace sits on the dispatch box and is the traditional symbol of the monarch’s authority and without it laws cannot be passed nor can the House of Commons meet.

For the action he was suspended for five sitting days, which would run on the current timetable until January 11 meaning if a vote was held on a Brexit deal he would be unable to take part.

The Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey MP insisted the bill is an assault on the devolution by taking powers back to London that were previously held in Edinburgh.

Infuriated that Deputy Speaker Rosie Winterton moved to call a vote on the hugely controversial UK Internal Market Bill, Mr Hendry he started protesting.

She threatened to “name” Mr Hendry which would have seen him sent from the house but he continued to remonstrate before taking the mace.

He walked to the exit where he was stopped and relieved of the mace as the Deputy Speaker labelled his actions "very childish."

Seizing the mace has a long history going back to Oliver Cromwell.

The most recent incident was in 2018 when Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle was ordered from the house over the postponement of the vote on then Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal.

But Mr Hendry has defended his actions saying that he was doing all he could to make clear the opposition to the bill on behalf of the Highlands and had no regrets.

He said: “Debate after debate, statement after statement, I have stood in the chamber, highlighting the genuine concerns expressed by our legal profession, teachers, the devolved governments and countless other organisations, about the powers this bill gives to Westminster over devolved areas.

“This dangerous piece of legislation will enable UK Ministers to override the decisions of the Scottish Parliament by imposing lower food and environmental standards on Scotland and threaten devolved areas of policy.

“Westminster having this power will have lasting impacts on our communities – especially here in the Highlands where we already face losing hundreds of millions of pounds of EU funding.

“We have long memories, and there are very few who want to return to the days where Tory governments in Westminster control spending in the Highlands and across Scotland in areas of economic development, infrastructure, health and the whole raft of policy areas this bill threatens.

“I will always stand up for the rights of my constituents, and if that means taking a stand against a bill that has such serious implications for them, then so be it.”

Scottish Conservative Highland and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston said: “This was embarrassing and childish behaviour from Drew Hendry who clearly should know better.

“Not only was he hectoring a deputy speaker, he also seriously endangered Commons officials by forcing them to come into close contact with him.

“That was completely reckless at a time when Covid cases are still rising.

“He should apologise immediately for this ridiculous stunt which showed the worst type of SNP behaviour that we’ve seen in Parliament on numerous occasions.”


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