The Scottish National Party’s Westminster MPs will vote against relaxing the fox hunting ban in England, reneging on a pledge not to vote on issues that have no impact on Scotland.
Following a meeting which nearly split its 56 MPs, the party confirmed it would team up with Labour to vote against relaxing the ban in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
Yet, the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon in February pointed to fox hunting as the type of English only issue her party's MPs would not vote on.
The revelations come just over a week after Chris Grayling, leader of the commons, announced plans to create a system in Westminster that supports “English Votes for English Laws”, following through on an election promise from the Conservatives.
Former Conservative Party politician and political commentator Iain dale said the decision by the SNP is transparently hypocritical and a sure sign of things to come:
Throughout the last parliament the SNP made a virtue of not voting on English-only issues. Sadly, that honourable position has been jettisoned just to give David Cameron a bloody nose. The SNP are playing with constitutional fire.
Conservative MPs have been given a free vote on a proposal to relax the use of dogs during hunting, but supporters are unlikely to garner a sufficient number of votes now they have the SNP against them.
This is the first time Scottish MPs will vote on an issue that has no financial implications for Scotland, but the UK government plans to introduce measures to prevent Scottish MPs voting on purely English matters in the future.
Angus Robertson, leader of the SNP in Westminster, said:
It is right and proper that we assert the Scottish interest on fox hunting by voting with Labour against the Tories’ proposals to relax the ban — in the process, reminding an arrogant UK government of just how slender their majority is.
He said the ban in England and Wales should be maintained while the Scottish parliament considers strengthening the law in Scotland.
Meanwhile, Sturgeon said in an interview with BBC Radio 4 she had changed her mind for three reasons:
There has been an overwhelming demand from people in England for the SNP to vote on this issue this week.
Second reason is that this debate has thrown a spotlight on to Scotland's hunting law. It's made a lot of people think we should be tightening up our law to bring it in to line with England's law as it stands.
The third reason is less to do with fox hunting. Since the election, David Cameron's government has shown very little respect to the mandate that Scottish MPs have.