Nicola Sturgeon has come out fighting against calls for her resignation, declaring she stands by “every word” of evidence given to the Alex Salmond committee.
Scottish Conservatives have escalated their demands for the first minister to resign after new leaks from the highly critical report emerged on Friday (March 19). The committee’s report is not due to be published until Tuesday but media are reporting that among its conclusions is the assertion that the SNP leader misled parliament and gave an “inaccurate account” of what happened in a meeting with Salmond on April 2, 2018.
The committee also state it is “hard to believe” the first minister did not know of concerns around Salmond’s inappropriate behaviour until November 2017, as Sturgeon claims.
Baseless assertions and base political motives
The inquiry’s findings are drawn from five-votes-to-four – comprising two Tory, one Labour, one Lib Dem and one independent versus four SNP – which have led to accusations the conclusions are politically motivated.
A spokesperson for the first minister said Sturgeon stood by “every word of her evidence” and added the “committee appears to have resorted to baseless assertion, supposition and smear – that is not how serious parliamentary committees are supposed to work, and in behaving this way they are simply exposing their base political motives.”
Davidson gives Sturgeon deadline
Leader of the Scottish Conservatives in Holyrood, Ruth Davidson asserted there is “no question” Sturgeon has lied to parliament and she has given the first minister until Tuesday to resign.
If not, Davidson said her party will table a motion of no confidence in Sturgeon’s government on Wednesday.
Douglas Ross MP, the leader of the Scottish Tories told STV News that Sturgeon “has to resign” for misleading parliament. “If she has misled, if she has not been truthful to the people of Scotland, she cannot continue in that office.”
If Sturgeon is found to have breached the ministerial code she will be expected to resign. An independent investigation into whether the first minister lied to parliament about when she first became aware of allegations against Salmond is to be published on Monday.
That report by Ireland’s former director of public prosecutions, James Hamilton, is “the investigation that really matters”, according to the Scotsman, who lament: “It is a shame the Salmond inquiry – ostensibly about the failings of the Scottish Government – has turned into a partisan crusade to topple Sturgeon.”
‘Sturgeon’s disdain for democracy is Trumpian’, says Cochrane
Evidence of that crusade can be found in an editorial headlined ‘Nicola Sturgeon’s Trumpian disdain for democracy has exposed deep flaws in the devolution system’, by Alan Cochrane, the Scottish editor of the pro-unionist Daily Telegraph.
Cochrane opines: “Personally, I don’t think there’s even much of a chance of La Sturgeon [sic] falling on her sword if a second independent inquiry, being conducted by the Irish QC James Hamilton, also finds that she breached the ministerial code.
“In this lady’s world, and supported by the bulk of an adoring party who believe every word she utters, she can pretty much do as she likes.”
Cochrane adds that “to someone with such a Trumpian disregard for democracy as Nicola Sturgeon, all those who are not 100 per cent with her are the deadliest of enemies.”
If she broke the code she has to go, says Starmer
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has weighed in on the row, saying Sturgeon should resign if she is found to have broken the ministerial code, adding that the issue is about principles and not individuals.
“If you’re going to have integrity in the Westminster Parliament or the Scottish Parliament, breaches of the ministerial code in either parliament ought to lead to a resignation,” said Starmer.
Johnson’s gets jab at the same hospital where he was in ICU
Meanwhile Boris Johnson had his first vaccination jab today (March 19) at the same London hospital where he was treated in ICU for coronavirus almost one year ago.
“I literally did not feel a thing and so it was very good, very quick,” the prime minister told assembled journalists as he left St Thomas’ Hospital having received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
“You know what I’m going to say – I cannot recommend it too highly. Everybody, when you get your notification to go for a jab, please go and get it. It’s the best thing for you, the best thing for your family, and for everybody else.”
More than 26 million people across the UK have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.