United Kingdom

SNP MPs invade Labour benches in Commons



Scottish National Party MPs have defied convention to sit directly behind Labour’s frontbench in the Commons, as they took their seats in Parliament for the first time.

Mhairi Black, Britain’s youngest MP, was among those to shun tradition and sit among Labour MPs, in the middle of the benches usually occupied solely by the official Opposition.

The bold move meant that yellow ties andSNPbadges were clearly visible behind Harriet Harman, the acting Labour party leader, as she stood at the opposition despatch box for the re-election of the Speaker.

There is no formal seating plan in the Commons, beyond the Government and Opposition front benches, but there are well-established traditions for where different parties sit.

Asked about her choice of seat, Ms Black told friends: “I didn’t see any signs.”

 Earlier, SNP MPs took another swipe at the norms of the house by attempting to reserve the bench usually occupied by Dennis Skinner, the veteran Labour backbencher dubbed “The Beast of Bolsover”. 

Mr Skinner and fellow “awkward squad” Labour MPs usually sit on the section of front bench furthest away from the Speaker.

However when Labour was last in Government the bench was occupied by the Liberal Democrats, so the SNP, which now boasts 56 MPs, has sought to take over the seats. 

SNP MPs took it in turns to sit in the bench for hours ahead of parliamentary business beginning – but eventually made room for Mr Skinner to return to his usual spot. 

SNP’s leader in the Commons, Angus Robertson, also sat on the frontbench. 


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