Ian Blackford slams Dominic Raab during Afghanistan debate
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The SNP’s House of Commons leader, 60, is known for airing his often strongly-worded views in Parliament and via social media. The MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber this week took aim at the Government’s handling of the evacuation of foreign forces from Afghanistan. Mr Blackford, an SNP veteran, retweeted an article about his party colleague, the MP Stewart McDonald, grilling the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
During the Commons Foreign Affairs committee Mr McDonald accused Mr Raab of being “missing in action” as the Taliban seized the Afghan capital Kabul on August 15.
The Foreign Secretary was in Crete on holiday at the time, as the Afghan political and military group sealed their takeover of Afghanistan.
Mr Raab refused to provide further details but was reportedly asked by a Downing Street official to cut short his summer break.
According to The Sunday Times the Foreign Secretary appealed to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was said to let him stay in Crete for two more days.
Mr Blackford was caught up in his own controversy late last year as he again waded into a public debate on social media and was accused of “anti-English bullying”.
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The politician took aim at English photographer Ollie Taylor, suggesting in a tweet he had flouted Scotland’s COVID-19 travel rules.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced restrictions on travelling between Scotland and the rest of the UK in November.
In a now-deleted tweet to Mr Taylor, Mr Blackford said: “As you live in the south of England and travel to Scotland is only for permitted reasons I am sure there will be a valid reason as to why you are posting a photo from the north of Scotland last night?”
Mr Taylor’s online profile had appeared to suggest he lived in Devon, although he later moved to the northern Scottish town of Thurso.
The photographer is known for his pictures of the Northern Lights in Scotland, among other landscape work.
The snapper told The Scottish Sun Mr Blackford was “trying to set the mob” on him and that he had been inundated with negative comments since the incident.
He said: “I did get a couple of hate messages and this, that and the other in my inbox.
“I lost an entire day’s working yesterday because it was just that intense at the desk.
“I found myself taking myself for a walk at 2.30am, I still couldn’t sleep till about half four.
“I’m never going to get that day back. It was just a bit shocking, really.”
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Mr Blackford did issue an apology to Mr Taylor on Twitter, explaining that his constituents “feel very strongly” about people flouting the COVID-19 travel rules.
He added: “I will continue to stand up for my constituents who frequently raise these concerns with me but I recognise that it was wrong to query an individual on Twitter.”
Mr Taylor said Mr Blackford should have sent him a direct message instead of posting in public.
He added: “If the police had phoned me or come round, they would have found out that everything’s fine – but he didn’t bother to find any of that out.”
Mr Blackford’s political opponents were also quick to criticise him for calling out a member of the public on Twitter.
Scottish Tory MSP MSP Jamie Halcro said in a tweet: “Being blocked by Ian Blackford has its advantages when it means I don’t have to see his anti-English bullying of members of the public.
“Surely his position as SNP Westminster leader is untenable, Nicola Sturgeon?”
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