As the SNP rot deepens, Scotland’s struggling First Minister Humza Yousaf embarked on a trip to Westminster today to meet with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for the first time since his election victory. He is also set to hold talks with London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, and ambassadors from countries including Germany and Ukraine.
The day’s activities will no doubt serve as a welcome break from Holyrood for a leader who has even been denied the traditional honeymoon period because of the scandal engulfing his party which deepens by the day.
The prospect of a financial crisis looms, with the clock ticking for the SNP to find a new auditor in time to file accounts with the Electoral Commission before the May 31 deadline. Stephen Flynn, the party’s Westminster leader, has conceded today that SNP’s Westminster group could lose access to more than £1million of public money within weeks because of its lack of auditors. It’s a “difficult time” for staff whose wages were paid from the cash, he admitted. Flynn also revealed that – much like Yousaf – he was kept in the dark for months about the resignation of the party’s accountants Johnston Carmichael last September.
Meanwhile, the police probe into the whereabouts of over £600,000 of missing SNP donations, earmarked for independence campaigning, continues to engulf the party.
According to latest revelations from the Sunday Mail, Police Scotland is now searching for sim cards belonging to “burner” mobile phones, a type of phone that is often used to stay anonymous. As part of the ongoing fraud investigation, known as Operation Branchform, officers are also said to be investigating SNP officials’ purchase of luxury pens, jewellery, designer pots and pans and a fridge freeze. A high end camper van has already been seized from the driveway of Nicola Sturgeon’s mother-in-law’s home – a van which Yousaf says he only discovered has been purchased by the SNP after becoming party leader. Broken record.
In other news, Colin Beattie has resigned as SNP treasurer following his wee trip to police custody, just two weeks after Peter Murrell, Sturgeon’s own husband and former SNP chief executive, was also arrested as part of the ongoing inquiry into the party’s finances.
Yet, despite all of this, deputy leader Keir Brown leader is still brazen enough to declare that his party is “more transparent than any other party in Scotland.”
The comment has prompted Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy to accuse Brown of “living in a parallel universe”.
What next for Scotland’s most transparent party?
Given that the Yousaf’s predecessor is thought to be one of just three names on SNP accounts, there is growing speculation that it’s only a matter of time until we witness the most high-profile arrest in the party ranks yet: that of Sturgeon herself.
Write to us with your comments to be considered for publication at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sign up for our FREE Reaction Weekend Email
Read the week's best-read articles on politics, business and geopolitics
Receive offers and exclusive invites
Plus uplifting cultural commentary