Nicola Sturgeon: I did not pay much attention to protest by Alba MPs

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Scotland’s First Minister said she “didn’t pay much attention” to a protest that resulted in two of her former MPs being suspended from the House of Commons.

Neale Hanvey and Kenny MacAskill, who defected to the Alba Party last year after it was launched by former first minister Alex Salmond, disrupted the Commons chamber at the beginning of Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

Mr MacAskill could be heard trying to raise a point of order and appeared to say “we need a referendum”, before he was drowned out by other MPs.

The Speaker’s Office confirmed the pair have been suspended from the Commons for five sitting days.

The protest comes after one of Boris Johnson’s final acts before his resignation as Tory leader last week, triggering a leadership contest to replace him, was to reject an official request for the powers required to hold another referendum on Scottish independence.

Both men drew the ire of Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle when they refused to sit down.

The Speaker said: “I will not tolerate such behaviour. If you want to go out, go out now.

“If you stand again, I will order you out. Make your mind up.”

Mr MacAskill rose to his feet again before Mr Hanvey also stood up and started speaking, but he could not be heard over the heckling from Tory MPs.

Sir Lindsay then named the pair, meaning they are suspended from the House.

He said: “Neale Hanvey, I’m now naming you and Kenny MacAskill to leave this chamber. Serjeant, deal with them.

“Out now, serjeant-at-arms escort them out.”

Speaking during a press conference where she published the second in a series of papers which will form the renewed basis for an independent Scotland, the First Minister hinted that she viewed the protest as “gesture politics”.

“I didn’t pay much attention to it,” the First Minister said of the incident.

“Protest always has a place. Ian Blackford was ejected from the Commons not that long ago.”

The First Minister went on to say that she could understand why Westminster could be “deeply frustrating” for a Scottish MP.

“I’m not focused on protest here, I’m focused on giving Scotland a path to choosing independence and I think that’s much, much more important.

“I’m the First Minister, my job is not to indulge in gesture politics, my job is to find ways forward on issues.”

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