Nicola Sturgeon condemns David Mundell over no-deal vote abstention

Nicola Sturgeon has branded the Scottish Secretary’s abstention on the no-deal Brexit vote at Westminster a “disgrace”.

At First Minister’s Questions, she criticised David Mundell for abstaining rather than voting to rule out no deal.

Prime Minister Theresa May had promised a free vote on Wednesday but when MPs voted by 312 to 308 on an amendment to reject a no-deal Brexit under any circumstances, Conservative MPs were ordered to vote against it.

Mr Mundell had previously expressed his opposition to no deal, but abstained from the vote.

The only Scottish Tory to vote to rule out no deal in the Commons was East Renfrewshire MP Paul Masterton, who then had to resign as a ministerial aide.

Ms Sturgeon said at Holyrood on Thursday: “I think it is to his credit that Paul Masterton did the right thing last night.

“The Secretary of State for Scotland can’t even manage to rebel properly.

“He pathetically opted for an abstention to save his own job rather than properly standing up for this country, and that I think is a disgrace.”

Mr Mundell wrote on Twitter: “I’ve always opposed a no-deal Brexit.

“The House made its view clear by agreeing the Spelman amendment, I didn’t think it was right for me to oppose that.

“The PM has my full support in her objective of leaving the EU with a deal to deliver an orderly Brexit.”

The First Minister was responding to questions from Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, who said: “Nicola Sturgeon and I agree that no deal would be a disaster.

“Two years of Theresa May claiming that no deal is better than a bad deal is nothing less than a lie.”

Mr Leonard warned that no deal remains a risk unless MPs vote for an extension to Article 50, and he called for a change in law to ensure the UK does not leave the EU without a deal on March 29.

He also said Mrs May must not bring her deal back for a third vote in the Commons, adding: “Last week in this Parliament (Holyrood), all parties voted to reject no deal in all circumstances – with the sole exception of the Tories.

“What does it say about the Tories in here that every single one of them without exception voted for something that neither the Secretary of State for Scotland nor Jackson Carlaw’s own MP could vote for last night?”

Ms Sturgeon asked Mr Leonard to use his influence with Jeremy Corbyn to get the Labour leader “firmly behind the option of a second EU referendum”.

She added: “Because if he would come off the fence, then I think that option would become not just the best one, but the most likely next step.”