SNP warned over ‘abuse of power’ – fury as Sturgeon accused of showing ‘no respect’

Pete Wishart grilled by Kay Burley on SNP's actions

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Scotland’s government is coming under mounting pressure to give up emergency powers afforded to them after they expire are the country edges its way out of the pandemic. Ministers have proposed making a handful of powers permanent, such as the ability to impose more lockdowns and operate virtual courts. They would also have the powers to order school closures “during the remainder of the pandemic” or for any future outbreak of an infectious disease, so long as they believe it is “necessary and proportionate”.

The chief medical officer has been consulted on this matter.

Under the proposals, powers allowing the Scottish Government to release prisoners early would also be extended.

A consultation on whether such powers should be extended beyond March 2022 closes later today (Tuesday).

Ms Sturgeon’s deputy First Minister John Swinney has claimed some of the changes have had a “demonstrable benefit to the people of Scotland”.

But the Scottish Conservatives have lashed out at the SNP, arguing they have “repeatedly shown that they have no respect for the scrutiny of parliament” and warning they must outline plans to give up the “extraordinary” Covid powers.

Shadow Cabinet Secretary for COVID Recovery, Murdo Fraser MSP, said: “As we move toward living with COVID-19, the SNP Government must set out a timeframe for giving up emergency powers, which were granted in response to the pandemic.

“To do otherwise would be a gross abuse of power and an affront to Scotland’s democracy.

“The Scottish Conservatives have raised concerns about the extension of emergency powers many times, yet the SNP have seemed determined to hold on to extra powers, for as long as possible.

“This cannot continue indefinitely.”

He added: “The SNP have repeatedly shown that they have no respect for the scrutiny of parliament; rushing through legislation and leaking policies to the press, before addressing the Chamber.

“They must now set out plans to give up these extraordinary Covid powers, so that future emergency measures can be fully accountable to the Scottish Parliament.”

The Scottish Liberal Democrats are also arguing the case for the Scottish Government to give up its emergency coronavirus powers after they expire.

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Party leader Alex Cole-Hamilton claimed it would be an “affront to democracy” for the SNP to make any attempt to keep the powers permanently.

He warned this must not turn into a “colossal SNP power grab, lining their pockets with powers that nobody would have countenanced handing over pre-pandemic”.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “When the pandemic hit, our country took a deep breath and granted deep and wide-ranging powers to the Government to get us through.

“Many powers were never meant to be forever and it would be an affront to democracy for the SNP to try to keep them on a permanent basis.

“The pandemic required new ways of working for all of us, some of which were overdue and for the better. If there are sensible reforms to be made, then these should go through the proper legislative process.

“What this must not be is a colossal SNP power grab, lining their pockets with powers that nobody would have countenanced handing over pre-pandemic.”

Express.co.uk has contacted the SNP for comment.

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