‘What’s he doing in the day job?’ SNP chief erupts at MSP in embarrassing public row

Scotland 'requires independence' says SNP's Michael Russell

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Michael Russell, President of the Nats, slated Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson on Twitter for not focusing on his “day job” after promoting his book Vienna – The International Capital. The book explores the Austrian capital’s international political importance over the centuries.

Mr Robertson posted the book was “available in two weeks’ time” with a link to a shopping site to place an order.

But Mr Russell, himself the Constitution Secretary until May, said in a now-deleted Tweet: “Hmm – might be a breach of MSP code too.

“And legitimate for people to ask what he is doing in the day job.”

This afternoon, Holyrood opposition parties warned both SNP politicians to focus on recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Donald Cameron MSP, Scottish Conservative Constitution spokesperson said: “These major SNP figures should surely have better things to be spending their time on.

“This sort of infighting doesn’t play well with the public who want them to be focused right now on our recovery from Covid.”

Wendy Chamberlain MP, Lib Dem Scottish affairs spokesperson, said: “Even the SNP president is wondering whether this is the best use of the Culture Secretary’s time.

“Scotland needs its senior politicians to be focused on the recovery from the pandemic, not Scottish independence or their literary careers.”

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The row has put the spotlight on Mr Robertson and Mr Russell who are both under pressure from SNP members to take urgent action on a second Scottish independence referendum.

However, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly claimed she will hold a referendum before the end of 2023 or when the pandemic allows, despite powers over the constitution being reserved to Westminster.

The UK Government has refused to engage with the Scottish Government on the issue, stating that this is not the time for a vote.

In response to the row, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “Mr Robertson appropriately declared that he had written this book before he was appointed as a Scottish minister and there is no breach of the Ministerial Code.

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“Any subsequent promotional activity will be in his own time and no Scottish Government resources will be used.”

The SNP stressed Mr Russell was trying to send Mr Robertson “examples of some of the baseless criticisms he had himself received in the past when publishing his own books, and tweeted one such example by mistake.”

The party said Mr Russell “looked forward to reading Angus’s book.”


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