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We’ll stand up for Scotland, says SNP’s new Westminster leader

Ian Blackford has promised to do things very differently to Angus Robertson

The leader of the SNP at Westminster has said his party will “stand up for Scotland” as he announced the party’s new team.

Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP Ian Blackford promised to “do things very differently” to the party’s previous Westminster leader Angus Robertson who lost his seat in the general election.

Speaking on College Green in the shadow of the Houses of Parliament, Mr Blackford told reporters: “I think we’ve got tremendous strength across the board – I think there are fantastic opportunities and arguably greater opportunities in this Parliament than was the case in the last parliament on the basis that it is a minority government.

“So we will certainly be looking to make sure that we can stand up for Scotland and Brexit and make sure that we challenge Tory austerity.

“I’m hopeful that we’ve many opportunities to hold the Government to account and hopefully to change Government policy.”

SNP deputy leader Kirsty Blackman (Aberdeen North) was appointed as the party’s economy spokeswoman, Glasgow North MP Patrick Grady will take up the post of chief whip, and Stephen Gethins (North East Fife) will be spokesman on International Affairs and Europe.

Livingston MP Hannah Bardell was announced as the party’s spokeswoman on Trade and Investment, while Neil Gray (Airdrie and Shotts) has been appointed Social Justice spokesman.

The country’s youngest MP Mhairi Black (Paisley and Renfrewshire South) was made spokeswoman on pensions and youth affairs, and Marion Fellows (Motherwell and Wishaw) will take on the roles of deputy whip – alongside Glasgow East MP David Linden – and Small Business, Enterprise and Innovation spokeswoman.

Tommy Sheppard (Edinburgh East) was appointed spokesman for the House of Lords, Scotland and Cabinet Offices, while Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central) was made treasury and cities spokeswoman. Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey MP Drew Hendry was made spokesman on Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, while Edinburgh South West MP Joanna Cherry was given the Justice and Home Affairs brief.

Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire) was made health spokeswoman, and Argyll and Bute’s Brendan O’Hara was appointed Culture and Media spokesman. Deidre Brock will join the party’s Westminster leadership team.

Mr Blackford was also asked whether his party would vote to bring down a Tory government, and said: “The important thing is that we stand up for Scotland. Of course the last thing that we want to see is a Tory government that harms the interests of the people of Scotland.

“If we can bring down a Tory government then of course we will be very happy to do so.”

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