Liz Truss causes fracking chaos

So… about last night.

There was absolute chaos in the House of Commons yesterday evening, the like of which I have never witnessed before in my 5 years as an MP.

There was a lot going on and a lot to unpack, so I thought it might be helpful to post an explainer and give you an insight into my first-hand account of what happened.

The day began with another dreadful performance at Prime Minister's Questions by Liz Truss, characterised by her now trademark head-in-the-sand approach to the scale of the economic crisis she has caused.

A little later in the day, news broke that the Prime Minister has lost another Cabinet Secretary - this time it was Home Secretary Suella Braverman who was forced to resign for using a personal email account for government business.

Braverman offered little more than extreme right-wing rhetoric in her few short days in office and won't be missed but the reality is that nomatter who replaces her, Scotland's voice will continue to be ignored by a cruel and ideological Home Office controlled by Westminster.

Then came the main event - an Opposition Day debate and vote which, if passed, would have forced the Government into a debate on legislation to ban fracking on 29 November.

Tory MPs had been warned earlier in the day that they were to vote against the motion and that it was being considered a confidence vote in the Government. Many did not want to oppose the motion because they rightly felt that the Prime Minister's fracking plan was an unacceptable U-turn on commmitments made in the Tory manifesto.

As the day progressed, a number of Tory MPs signalled that they would rebel on the vote. Downing Street, sensing another humiliation for Liz Truss, panicked.

A Tory Government minister then announced at the despatch box during the debate that the vote was no longer a confidence vote.

Chaos ensued.

I served as an SNP whip in the 2017-2019 Parliament during the height of the Brexit years - by the end of of which the Government had lost its majority. Not even then did I see scenes like those we witnessed last night.

I, and many other MPs, witnessed a reluctant Tory MP being manhandled into the 'correct' voting lobby by senior Conservatives.

The notion that whips are big burly figures who throw their weight around and intimidate folk into voting the right way is a myth. The job of whips is to persuade colleagues on the merits of an argument. If you can’t do that, then you have to accept that it’s a lost cause.

It's little wonder that the Tory Chief Whip, Wendy Morton, and her deputy responded by resigning on the spot - the latter using some colourful language as he did so.

It has been widely report that Liz Truss grabbed the arm of Wendy Morton as she stormed out of the voting lobby to attempt her to reconsider, the Prime Minister being swept out with her as she fled the madness.

As a consequence, the Prime Minister ended up missing the vote - a vote which she had earlier warned her MPs that their positions depended upon them voting.

It's difficult to think of anything that exemplifies the ineptitude of the current British government more that this farce. Even senior Tory MPs were outspoken in their rage.

What we saw last night was the last few members of an extreme right wing Tory Government who have not reconciled themselves to the fact that the Truss premiership is now a lost cause.

The Government may have won the vote, but they have totally lost the plot.

And in the early hours of this morning, they still hadn't found it. Downing Street issued a statement at 1:33am stating that the vote was, in fact, a confidence vote and that the Conservative Members who abstained would be subject to disciplinary action.

It is difficult to quite find the words to sum all of this up, but I'll leave the last word with Scotland's First Minister who put it rather succinctly.

Photo credit: ©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor