'Baron-in-waiting' Alister Jack should be sacked, Ian Blackford tells PMQs

The Scotland Secretary should be sacked from his job as he is a “baron-in-waiting”, the Prime Minister has been told.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford told the Commons that Alister Jack should be dismissed from his Government job after reports emerged that former prime minister Boris Johnson has tipped him for a peerage.

Alongside Dumfries and Galloway MP Mr Jack, former culture secretary Nadine Dorries, Cop26 president Alok Sharma, and ex-minister Nigel Adams are expected to be on Mr Johnson’s resignation honours list.

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But the PA news agency has been told that they have all agreed to a request to hold off on taking their seats in the House of Lords to prevent perilous by-elections for Rishi Sunak.

The Scotland Secretary should be sacked from his job as he is a “baron-in-waiting”, the Prime Minister has been told.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Blackford said: “Not only do we have a UK Government that denies democracy, we now have a Secretary of State that is running scared from it.

“In the middle of a Tory cost-of-living crisis, the Scotland Office is now to be led by a baron-in-waiting, biding his time until he can cash in on the £300-a-day job in the House of Lords.

“He should be sacked from the Cabinet and the people of Dumfries and Galloway should be given the chance to sack the Tories in a by-election.”

The Prime Minister replied: “What the Secretary of State and I are jointly focused on is working constructively with the Scottish Government to deliver for the people of Scotland.

“I will be pleased to be meeting with the First Minister tomorrow because that, I think, is what the people of Scotland want to see.”

Mr Blackford had earlier claimed the reports of Mr Jack’s peerage called into question the Prime Minister’s judgment.

He asked: “Here’s another test of judgment for the new Prime Minister – does he think it right to keep a man in the Cabinet who is clearly far more interested in getting his hands on an ermine robe than playing by the rules of Scottish democracy?”

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Mr Sunak responded: “I am obviously not going to comment on speculation around such lists, any list would of course follow the normal procedures and processes that are in place.”

The Prime Minister was earlier urged to veto any appointments to the House of Lords for people who received fixed penalty notices (FPNs) linked to Covid lockdown breaches.

Neil Coyle, the Independent MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, said Covid restrictions were a “necessary if painful experience” and described how people made “enormous sacrifices”.

He added: “These people were betrayed by the Conservatives who partied their way through lockdown.”

As he was heckled, Mr Coyle suggested Tory MPs could “go eat kangaroo testicles” in a nod to former health secretary Matt Hancock appearing on I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here!

Mr Coyle added: “Those Conservatives covered Downing Street in suitcases of wine, in vomit and in fixed penalty notices.

“Can this Prime Minister promise today he will use his power of veto to ensure no-one who receives an FPN for breaking Covid laws is rewarded with a seat in the House of Lords?”

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Mr Sunak replied: “This Government during Covid ensured we protected people’s jobs, that we supported the NHS to get through the difficult times and that we rolled out the fastest vaccine in Europe.”