SNP deputy Kirsten Oswald steps in as Ian Blackford is silenced by islands power cut

The SNP’s Kirsten Oswald MP stepped in at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday after Ian Blackford was cut off by a power failure across the Scottish islands.

Thousands of homes on Skye, where Blackford lives, and the Uists were were left without power after winds gusted to more than 70mph over the Western Isles and west Highlands on Tuesday night

Blackford’s home at Glendale on Skye was one of the properties still offline on Wednesday meaning the SNP leader could not use the remote video link to the Commons.

Taking up the baton at short notice in the Commons deputy leader Kirsten Oswald challenged the Prime Minister on the Brexit replacement for international student exchange scheme, Erasmus.

Oswald said the replacement Turing scheme had been devised “without any consultation or discussion with devolved governments”.

She said: The replacement scheme offers lower living support, no travel support or tuition support. Why is this Tory government taking opportunities away from our young people?”

Oswald added: “He’s straddled a generation with tuition fees and now he’s closing the door on Erasmus. It’s no wonder that students are choosing the SNP and independence.”

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Johnson said the Turing scheme was “fantastic” and called on voters to reject the SNP.

He said: “It is to failing to deliver on education, failing on crime and failing on the economy. I hope very much for the people of Scotland will go for common sense.”

“Instead of endlessly campaigning for a referendum, which I think is the last thing that people in this country need right now, I think people want a government that focuses on the issues that matter for them, including a fantastic international education scheme like Turing.”

The Prime Minister has changed his tone on a second referendum in recent weeks, describing it as irrelevant rather than delivering an outright rejection of powers to stage a vote.

Earlier Scottish Secretary Alister Jack told the Commons that independence would make people “significantly worse off”.

He told MPs during Scottish Questions that voters were turning away from the SNP, despite the nationalists polling 50 per cent of the vote with the public.

Jack said: “Not only did they emphatically reject independence in 2014, but the most recent opinion polls show that they’ve realised that neither the SNP nor its leader can be trusted and that independence would make everyone in Scotland significantly worse off.”


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