SNP Westminster leader blasts Rishi Sunak after Scottish nationalism comments

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has accused Rishi Sunak of comparing Scottish independence supporters to “extremist threats” in “puerile and pathetic” comments.

Mr Flynn also claimed Mr Sunak had “proactively compared almost half of his Scottish population with a war criminal like Vladimir Putin” during a keynote speech.

But Prime Minister Mr Sunak denied the claims and went on to accuse the SNP of being a “threat to the integrity” of the UK.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Flynn said: “On Monday, the Prime Minister outlined what he considers to be extremist threats to our society and in doing so, he actively compared North Korea, Iran and Russia with those people in Scotland who believe in independence.

“So can I ask him to rise once to the standards befitting of his office and apologise for those puerile and pathetic remarks?”

Prime Minister’s Questions
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions (House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA)

Mr Sunak replied: “That’s not what I said, but I would say to the honourable gentleman that his party is indeed a threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom, and I hate to remind him that is literally their entire purpose.

“Because when the people of Scotland accepted the referendum in 2014, it was the SNP who didn’t.

“They went on creating a Minister for Independence, focused on constitutional wrangling, ignoring the needs of the people.

“Education standards falling, taxes rising, so actually finally he should do the right thing and end the obsession with independence and put the needs of the Scottish people first.”

In a second question, Mr Flynn said: “Let’s be clear, what the Prime Minister did was not just equate my colleagues and I to despotic and dangerous despots across the world, he proactively compared almost half of his Scottish population with a war criminal like Vladimir Putin, and he did so as their Prime Minister – as the man who represents them on the world stage, and the man who on these isles, is tasked with defending their liberties and their democracy.

“We know that his sorry time in office is rapidly coming to a conclusion.

“Is this really how he wants to be remembered?”

Mr Sunak replied: “As ever, distracting from the actual record of what the SNP are doing in Scotland, and this obsession with independence means that Scottish schoolchildren are being let down, plummeting down international league tables.

“The Scottish NHS – the only place in the United Kingdom where funding is actually falling in real terms, and taxes going up for ordinary hardworking families and small businesses.

“That is what the SNP are doing in Scotland while this UK Government is delivering for them.”

In his Policy Exchange speech on Monday, the Prime Minister said Scottish nationalists are “trying to tear our United Kingdom apart”.

Rishi Sunak - Policy Exchange
Rishi Sunak delivered a keynote speech at the Policy Exchange think tank on Monday May 13 (Carl Court/PA)

In reference to “gender activists” and “cancel culture”, he said: “Vocal and aggressive fringe groups are trying to impose their views on the rest of us.

“They’re trying to make it morally unacceptable to believe something different and undermine people’s confidence and pride in our own history and identity.”

Mr Sunak said elsewhere in the speech: “The dangers that threaten our country are real.

“They are increasing in number.

“An axis of authoritarian states like Russia, Iran, North Korea, and China is working together to undermine us and our values.”