THE SNP have failed in a bid to disrupt Westminster proceedings and have the House of Commons sit in private.

The party has repeatedly called for a General Election to be called as the UK sees its third prime minister in seven weeks, but the Tories have argued against doing so.

In response to what they see as a democratic failing, Nicola Sturgeon’s party put forward the effort to sit behind closed doors and cause problems for the UK Government.

The National understands that “Operation Dis-Rishi” was planned out in advance to cause parliamentary chaos as Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister on Tuesday.

In order to get the motion through, the party needed there to be little opposition in the Chamber.

The timing was deliberately chosen to ensure that Tories would be running around amid the new PM's reshuffle.

The National: Rishi Sunak departs Conservative party HQ in Westminster, London, after it was announced he will become the new leader of the Conservative party after rival Penny Mordaunt dropped out. Picture date: Monday October 24, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story

Launching the motion, David Linden, the SNP MP for Glasgow East, raised a point of order and told the Commons: “Earlier today His Majesty the King appointed the second unelected Prime Minister in seven weeks for these islands.

“Given that this government has no democratic legitimacy over Scotland, I invoke standing order 163 and beg to move that the House do sit in private.”

Commons Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing replied: “(He) takes the House by surprise. He has moved the motion that the House do now sit in private. I am obliged to put the question forthwith.”

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Laing said she had provided members with extra time to vote, as some division bells on the parliamentary estate were not working effectively.

In the end, 39 MPs voted for the private sitting, while 240 voted against. That represented 233 Tories and five DUP members, with two unaccounted for according to the House's vote recording system.

There has not been a private sitting of the House since 2001. During private sittings, members of the public are not permitted to sit in the galleries, and all broadcasts of the Commons must end.

None of the dialogue from the House is recorded - only the results from votes. 

The National:

Speaking to The National after the incident, Linden (above) said the party had been hoping to "take the Government by surprise" with the motion. 

"The SNP will continue to stand up for people in Scotland and continue to protest against what is yet another unelected Tory Prime Minister and we will use every means at our disposal to do that," the Glasgow East MP said.

"The SNP are not here to play Westminster games … we’re here to make a point and given that the UK Government aren’t listening to us, you can rest assured there will be occasions where SNP MPs will take action going forward."

He went on: "I wouldn’t say that we’re necessarily here to break the rules, but you have to use the rules in such a way to break the Westminster system."

READ MORE: Philippa Whitford explains why the SNP MPs won't just walk out of Westminster

Unsuccessful attempts to have the House sit in private are fairly common.

In 2018, SNP MPs walked out of PMQs in a big group after Westminster leader Ian Blackford was thrown out following a row with the Speaker over an attempt to have the House sit in private. This was in protest over the “power grab” of the EU Withdrawal Bill.

Blackford had put the motion forward, and refused to sit down again when told to by the Speaker – who argued that MPs would be able to vote on whether to sit in private at the end of PMQs.

The weekly session was brought to a halt as John Bercow had to talk with officials about what to do next, but Blackford was ultimately thrown out of the Chamber and followed by his MPs.