07 July 2023

Flynn pays tribute to ‘rock star’ Black as he backs her toxic Westminster claim

07 July 2023

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has agreed with his deputy that Westminster is “toxic” as he described the departing Mhairi Black as a “rock star”.

The Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP announced this week should would not stand for re-election, just over six months since she was elevated to deputy Westminster leader.

Speaking to the News Agents podcast on Tuesday, Ms Black described Westminster as “a poisonous place”.

On the same podcast on Friday, Mr Flynn said: “Obviously, I was aware of what Mhairi was intending to do, but I’m a wee bit conflicted because on a political level, at Prime Minister’s Questions and Deputy Prime Minister’s Questions, she was phenomenal.

Mhairi, when it comes to politics, is a rock star and her ability to connect with the public, I think is unmatched. She's phenomenal

“Mhairi, when it comes to politics, is a rock star and her ability to connect with the public, I think is unmatched. She’s phenomenal.

According to the Aberdeen South MP, Ms Black will be “happier” after having left Westminster.

Asked if he agrees with his deputy’s assessment that Westminster is “toxic”, he added: “Yeah, I think so.

“Westminster is really hard to describe to people who don’t work in that environment. It’s unlike anything I could possibly imagine.

“I often say that I’d love to pick up all the people of Scotland and get them one by one to spend a week in Westminster, to realise quite how dysfunctional the place is, and the nature of everything that happens there is just absurd.

“But I guess it’s more than that for Mhairi as well.”

Ms Black, Mr Flynn added, is often attacked online by the “dregs of society” for her interventions and actions in Parliament “no matter how good it is”.

Westminster, he said, “is not the place that normal people want to spend their lives”.

But despite his issues with the Commons, the party’s Westminster leader has no intention of leaving currently.

“I want to continue for now because we’ve got a big challenge on our hands,” he said.

“There’s been well documented issues within the party. And you know, where there is a challenge, there’s an opportunity, and I see an opportunity for us to really drive home that journey to independence.

“And you know, what attracts me to that is being the person who walks past the statues outside the chamber as SNP MPs leave, then depart Westminster for good. That’s a big motivating factor for me.

“But, of course, the personal challenges we all face are tough, and Mhairi has just decided it is better for her not to be there.”

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