STEPHEN Flynn challenged Rishi Sunak on polling showing Scottish independence support at 56 per cent during his first appearance at Prime Minister’s Questions as the SNP’s Westminster leader.

Rising to his feet to ask his first question, Flynn pressed the Prime Minister on what he thought the Tories best achievement in government had been since the last General Election – taking the chance to also fire a shot at Labour.

READ MORE: Brexit-backing Labour 'gave up' on Scotland but won't admit it, John Curtice says

The MP for Aberdeen South said: “What does he [Sunak] consider to be the greatest achievement of the Conservative Party in government since 2019: leaving the single market and customs union, ending freedom of movement, denying Scotland her democracy, or getting the Labour Party to agree with all of the above?”

In his response, the Tory leader said the answer was “very simple”.

“The thing that we’re most proud of over the last couple of years is making sure that we protected this country through the pandemic with furlough and with the fastest vaccine rollout,” said Sunak. 

Flynn quipped: “Far be it from me to offer advice to a near-billionaire, but he’s going to have to up his game.”

In his follow-up question, the SNP’s group leader raised the findings of a new poll, published minutes before PMQs began, which found support for Scottish independence was at 56%.

It also found that 53% of Scots would vote SNP in a General Election treated as a de facto independence referendum – meaning the party would take all but one Westminster seat north of the Border. Both the LibDems and the Tories would face a wipeout, with Labour winning one seat, the Ipsos poll suggested.

READ MORE: Scottish independence support at 56 PER CENT in major new poll

Speaking at PMQs, Flynn said: “In that context, can I ask the Prime Minister, does he consider that increasing energy bills on energy-rich Scotland by a further £500 will cause those poll numbers to rise or to fall?”

The SNP MP’s reference was to a cost-saving cut in the Tories’ “energy price guarantee”, which will now see the typical household’s energy bill rise from £2500 a year to £3000 a year from April.

In response, Sunak claimed his government was delivering £55 billion of support for energy bills for people across the UK. He said this would “save a typical homeowner about £900 on their bills this winter with extra support for the most vulnerable”.

The National:

The Prime Minister said this was an example of “the United Kingdom and the Union delivering for people in Scotland”.

During the exchange, both Flynn and Sunak also paid tribute to Ian Blackford, the SNP’s former group leader.

Flynn praised his “friend” for having seen off three Tory prime ministers, saying he is a “giant” of the independence movement.

PMQs also saw Labour leader Keir Starmer challenge Sunak over Michelle Mone, the Conservative peer facing accusations of having taken tens of millions in profit from dodgy PPE deals.

READ MORE: Michelle Mone to take immediate leave of absence from House of Lords

Starmer asked the Prime Minister: “How did his colleague Baroness Mone end up with nearly £30 million of taxpayers’ money in her bank account?”

Sunak told the Commons: “Let me say, like everyone else I was absolutely shocked to read about the allegations.

“It is absolutely right that she is no longer attending the House of Lords and therefore no longer has the Conservative whip.”

Sunak has faced accusations of weakness over his failure to remove the whip from Mone himself, which came after he also failed to fire Gavin Williamson as allegations of bullying behaviour mounted.

This also came up in the Commons.

Continuing his answer to Starmer about Mone, Sunak said: “The one thing we know about him is he is a lawyer, he should know there is a process in place. It is right that that process concludes. I hope that it is resolved promptly.”

He added: “I will say one thing, I’ll tell him what is weak.”

After Labour MPs shouted “you!” at the Prime Minister, Sunak continued: “That is not being able to stand up to people.

“Why doesn’t he listen to a former minister in Gordon Brown’s government who just said ‘why does the Labour Party refuse to stand up for workers and businesses like pubs and restaurants who will lose business as a result of the train strikes?'

“If he is strong, that is what he should do.”