Watch: Penny Mordaunt mauls ‘delusional and divisive’ SNP

Watch: Penny Mordaunt mauls 'delusional and divisive' SNP
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It was Opposition Day in the Commons yesterday, with the SNP plumping for a debate on Covid contracts – a bold choice given the £500 million approved by Holyrood without scrutiny. For leader Ian Blackford however it was a golden opportunity to rail against Westminster's 'endemic cronyism during a global pandemic, the misuse of funds, and covid profiteers.' At least he had the good sense to make his claims about ministers 'funnelling covid cash from the frontline into the pockets of their rich friends' under parliamentary privilege, unlike Labour's Grand Poobah Angela Rayner, collector of titles and dispenser of insults.

Blackford might have thought the Covid 'chumocracy' would provide him with rich pickings. Unfortunately he had not reckoned on the intervention of South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge, who pointed out Scotland was now being dubbed the 'covid capital of Europe' – an intervention to which the poker-faced Blackford replied: 'We really should not be playing political football.' Cue laughter all round. He followed that up by having a spat with Speaker Lindsay Hoyle over whether Boris Johnson had 'willingly' or merely 'inadvertently' misled the House – something on which Blackford (begrudgingly) gave way.

Then it was the government's turn to respond and up stepped Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth's biggest hitter since Lomana LuaLua. The Paymaster-General had already shown her mettle on this subject two months ago when Rayner tried the same line on cronyism and was soundly seen off. In for a Penny, in for a pound and Mordaunt certainly gave Blackford a pounding, detailing the 15,000 ventilators and 32 billion items of PPE purchased. Responding to SNP calls for an inquiry, the Cabinet Office minister drily listed the 29 different reports, reviews and inquiries the government has been or will be subject to, adding:

I always take pleasure in taking part in SNP debates; I have done a few and am beginning to notice a pattern. I have been called here previously to defend the UK’s position on jobs, while the SNP has dismissed the 545,000 Scottish jobs that are reliant on Scotland’s being part of the UK; I have been called here to discuss the importance of hypothetical EU funding mechanisms, while the SNP dismisses the very real United Kingdom dividend to the taxpayers of Scotland of £2,000 per person; and in another debate the SNP sought to be the champions of democracy while they ignored the result of two referendums. Although it might be a surprise to some that, in a week when we have had more revelations about the Scottish government’s own lack of financial propriety and literacy, the SNP has called a debate on such schemes, it is not a surprise to me: I think it shows admirable consistency, as well as a complete lack of self-awareness with a large helping of assumed piety.

Modaunt closed her speech with one last excoriating attack on the SNP after Dave Doogan accused her of being part of a 'posh old pals’ network 'that starts at Eton and Harrow':

For our part, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will continue to engage with Scottish colleagues. Our four-nation NHS will continue to work together, as will our chief medical officers. My fellow Ministers and I—all comprehensive school educated, by the way—will come to this House to be held to account, and we will continue to reject the distracting, delusional and divisive debate from the SNP. We will do the responsible thing. We know our duty to the Scottish people, and we will always be guided by what is in their interest. I hope that, one day, the SNP will do the same.

First Labour, now the SNP – Mr S looks forward to the Liberal Democrats calling for a debate on this subject too so Mordaunt can complete the trifecta.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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