The National:

Good evening! The UK Parliament has been in recess this week during conference season but there has been no shortage of drama coming out of the Big Smoke. Here is your latest Worst of Westminster round-up. Remember you can sign up to receive it in your inbox for free here.

The Tory defector

The First Minister called it the least surprising news he had had since taking office. SNP president Michael Russell called it an “odd tantrum”. All we know is Lisa Cameron is now a Tory.

The East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow MP has had a string of issues with the SNP in recent years, but most people were still somewhat taken aback when she defected to the Tory benches on the day she was facing deselection as an SNP candidate this week.

The SNP said her constituents would be "appalled" by her decision, as we certainly found when we went out to speak to them

Tories including Rishi Sunak and Scottish leader Douglas Ross welcomed Cameron to their ranks with open arms, but the people she was elected to represent – who have never voted for a Tory MP - were not best pleased.

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“How dare she?” one constituent asked, adding that she was “so disappointed” that someone elected to represent Scotland and independence could defect to the Conservatives.

Another said the idea that they were now represented by a Tory was a “load of crap”.

It was a move apparently masterminded by Rishi Sunak – according to Scottish Secretary Alister Jack – while it was also reported a small group of senior Tories orchestrated the shift.

Cameron cited a “toxic and bullying” culture among the SNP Westminster group as the reason behind her decision. It came after Culture Minister Christina McKelvie joined calls from Collette Stevenson, the current MSP for East Kilbride, and her predecessor Linda Fabiani, for local members to oust Cameron as their candidate.

Cameron criticised her treatment by the SNP and its leadership after she spoke out about her colleague, Patrick Grady. He was suspended from the Commons for two days last year after he was found to have made an “unwanted sexual advance” to a member of party staff and she claimed she was mistreated by the party after speaking in support of the complainant.

Earlier this year, she also called for Westminster to step in after gender reforms were passed at Holyrood.

Cameron said this week: “I will never regret my actions in standing up for a victim of abuse at the hands of an SNP MP last year, but I have no faith remaining in a party whose leadership supported the perpetrator's interests over that of the victim’s and who have shown little to no interest in acknowledging or addressing the impact.”

The FM insisted Cameron should step down and trigger a by-election but, for now, it would seem, her constituents will have to endure being represented for 12 months by an MP who wears a Unionist badge with pride against their wishes.

Sturgeon meetings were “wrong”

Drama around the inner-governmental workings of the Covid-19 pandemic exploded again this week when Boris Johnson claimed he felt it was “wrong” for him to hold regular meetings with then-first minister Nicola Sturgeon (below) and Welsh FM Mark Drakeford during the crisis.

READ MORE: Senior Scottish Labour figures at odds over devolution comments

The former prime minister made the comments in his evidence submitted to the ongoing official inquiry into the pandemic.

He said he feared working closely with the Scottish and Welsh governments which would have made the UK into a “mini-EU of four nations".

The National:

He said in full: “It is optically wrong, in the first place, for the UK prime minister to hold regular meetings with other [devolved administration] first ministers, as though the UK were a kind of mini-EU of four nations and we were meeting as a 'council' in a federal structure.”

In minutes of a meeting of UK Government ministers at the time, Tory politicians expressed fears regular meetings with the devolved administrations could be a “potential federalist Trojan horse”. Scottish Secretary Alister Jack was recorded as saying that "working at [an] official level would be better" than with the heads of government as it "would avoid Scottish [first minister] grandstanding".

SNP president Mike Russell described Johnson's views as "utterly disgusting" while Professor Ailsa Henderson, a political expert at Edinburgh University, told the inquiry the minutes were “the most remarkable document I have read in a number of years”.


  • Keir Starmer might have been covered with glitter ahead of his speech to the Labour conference this week, but after it, his words were welcomed by one of the UK’s most influential right-wing think tanks for setting out a “serious, positive” vision for the country. The Adam Smith Institute, a neoliberal think tank said to have influenced Liz Truss's disastrous "mini-budget", said he was right that “politics should tread lightly on people’s lives”. Not sure it’s the sparkling endorsement he was looking for, but who knows given the direct pitch he made to Tory voters to switch their allegiance to Labour, suggesting his party “fights for our Union”.