05 July 2023

SNP’s Mhairi Black jokes Deputy Prime Minister will lose his Commons seat

05 July 2023

SNP deputy Westminster leader Mhairi Black provoked laughter in the Commons after joking the Deputy Prime Minister would lose his seat at the next general election.

Responding to Oliver Dowden’s comments during Prime Minister’s Questions on her announcement she would be stepping down, Ms Black said: “The Deputy Prime Minister, I thank him for his kind words and we did join this place at the same time and I’m pretty sure we’ll be leaving at the same time.”

Ms Black questioned the stance of Labour and the Conservatives over the role of the private sector in the NHS.

She said: “As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the health services in the UK, I want to reflect on two quotes from two people. The first one is ‘it’s about using the private sector more, something we should be very comfortable with’.

“The second quote is ‘people go as NHS patients to the private sector and we could do more of it’. Can I ask the Deputy Prime Minister which quote is from the PM and which is from the leader of the Opposition?”

Mr Dowden replied “how sorry he was to hear that (she) will be standing down at the next election”, adding: “She and I joined this House at the same time and I know she has contributed much to her party and to this place.

“I’m sure she will wish to join me in celebrating His Majesty King Charles receiving the Scottish regalia, pretty much as we speak. There’s always time for a (Damascene) conversion.”

Ms Black could be seen shaking her head at his comments.

Mr Dowden said: “When it comes to the NHS, I will take absolutely no lectures from either party on it. It has been there for me. I was born in an NHS hospital, my children were born in an NHS hospital. It’s been there for me and my family and this Government has put record funding into it.”

Raising Brexit, Ms Black called on both Labour and the Conservatives to “admit the damage that Brexit is causing our health services”.

She said: “The number one problem that faces the health service across these isles is workforce and research shows that Brexit has worsened the UK’s shortage of doctors.

“European nurses registering to work in the UK fell by 90% after the Brexit referendum. What more will it take for both him and the Labour Party to admit the damage that Brexit is causing our health services?”

Mr Dowden replied: “Well it all started off so nicely. I don’t know whether (she) has actually been listening to what the Government has announced this week. We announced an additional £2.4 billion for our groundbreaking NHS Workforce Plan.

“That is the first time in the NHS’s history that that has happened and if you look at the record since this party came to power, almost 40,000 more doctors and more than 50,000 more nurses. Once again the Conservative Party delivering for the NHS.”

Ms Black has said she will step down at the next general election, citing the “toxic” environment at Westminster as the reason for her departure.

Speaking to The News Agents podcast, the Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP said Westminster is “one of the most unhealthy workplaces that you could ever be in”.

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