A TORY minister has made a dig over claims the SNP ’s former leader at Westminster wants a peerage – saying he has made a “pre-emptive job application” to the Lords.

Scotland minister John Lamont made the unprompted swipe as he was asked about the issue of Scotland’s businesses being given access to the single market after Brexit.

It followed a suggestion from SNP MP Joanna Cherry that Ian Blackford is seeking a peerage, with her claiming it explains reports why the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber thinks the party should U-turn on its boycott of the chamber.

However an SNP spokesperson has said Blackford, who is stepping down at the next General Election, has made it clear he will never take a seat in the Lords and believes the chamber should be abolished.

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At Scotland Questions in the Commons, SNP MP Pete Wishart asked: “Scottish businesses would give their right arm to have the arrangements that Northern Irish businesses have with their access to the single market and all the competitive advantages that brings.

“The Prime Minister has described Northern Ireland as one of the world’s most exciting economic zones – does he agree with that and what’s he doing to ensure Scotland gets the same arrangements?”

In response Lamont said: “I thought the Honourable member was going to stand up to tell me how great the House of Lords was now, a bit like his Honourable friend the member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber in a sort of pre-emptive job application.”

He went on to dismiss the question saying: “Scotland is not Northern Ireland and does not share the land border with an EU country. It is disappointing the SNP is seeking to play party politics with the situation in Northern Ireland.”

Cherry made the comment about Blackford on social media in response to a story in the Times headlined: “Ian Blackford: Why SNP should stop opposing House of Lords membership.”

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Responding to the story in the Times, she wrote: “Hhmmmm let me guess? [thinking emoji] Could it be because you want a peerage? [facepalm emoji]”.

The remarks come after Stephen Noon, the former chief strategist for Yes in the 2014 referendum, told The National that independence supporters should take seats in the Lords.

But an SNP spokesperson said: “Ian is clear he would never take a seat in an unelected chamber and the unelected House of Lords should be abolished."