Taxpayers to ‘fund Alba MP’s London flat until lease ends’ -but he’s rarely in Westminster

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Kenny MacAskill defected from the SNP to Alex Salmond’s new Alba party in March. Alba was routed at last week’s Scottish parliament elections failing to secure a single seat.

Mr MacAskill explained his decision to defeat in a joint statement with Neale Hanvey, another former SNP MP who joined Alba.

The pair said they intent to “focus” on work in “our constituencies and across Scotland”.

As a result, they will no longer make the “routine sojourn” to represent their constituents in Westminster.

However, according to The Scotsman, the taxpayer will fund Mr MacAskill’s London flat until its lease ends.

Speaking to the paper, he said: “As with many MPs I have a small bedsit in London.

“The lease is in the standard terms from IPSA.

“I have been unable to terminate it during Covid given the contractual terms but will not be extending it.

“In the interim, it’ll be used by me when attending parliament or other meetings.”

It is unclear whether Mr Hanvey will continue claiming for a London residence.

A spokesperson said he is continuing to fulfil his duties as an MP.

Speaking to Express.co.uk they said: “As with the majority of Scottish based MPs, Neale has been severely restricted in physically attending Westminster during the pandemic, and as such has been unable to access his leased accommodation in a lawful manner for much of the last year.

 Neale has continued to contribute to a full range of parliamentary business throughout this time attending physically to lead for the SNP in debates, appearing virtually at other debates and question times, and he has led key lines of questioning at select committee. In addition to this, Neale continues to lead cross party letters, tables EDMs, as well as written parliamentary questions. Indeed, his performance is demonstrably higher than many of his colleagues across a range of metrics.

“In addition to Neale’s parliamentary work, he runs a highly effective constituency team who deliver an outstanding service to all of his constituents.

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“How Neale prioritises his work going forward will be reassessed as described, but to conclude that this suggests an abstentionist position is quite incorrect. He will continue to work with vigour and determination and as he is now free to speak across the full range of reserved matters, he fully intends to do exactly that.”

According to Parliamentary records Mr MacAskill MP and Mr Hanvey MP have claimed £50,000 on London accommodation and hotels since their election in 2019.

Alba was formed after Mr Salmond fell out spectacularly with Nicola Sturgeon, formerly a close ally.

Ms Sturgeon has been accused of misleading the Scottish parliament over when she first heard about sexual harassment allegations against Mr Salmond.

Ms Sturgeon strongly denied the allegation when appearing before a Scottish parliament committee.

She commented: “The charge that has been made against me is that I wilfully allowed a judicial review to proceed against the legal advice, therefore I broke the ministerial code.

“With respect, as you now know, I was acting in accordance with the views of the law officers, not against.”

In March 2020 the former first minister was found not guilty of 12 sexual assault charges with another found not proven.

Mr Salmond launched Alba in the hope of securing a pro-independence “super-majority” in the Scottish parliament.

However, his party, which only competed for the regional list, failed to win any seats.

The SNP, who are pushing for another referendum on leaving the UK, fell one short of a parliamentary majority.

However they are likely to make another independence referendum bit with the support of the Scottish Greens.

Boris Johnson has urged Ms Sturgeon to focus on Scotland’s coronavirus recovery rather than constitutional questions.

Scotland voted to remain part of the UK in 2014 by 55 percent of the vote to 45 percent.

Unionists point out pro-UK parties took more constituency votes in total than pro-independence parties during the recent elections.

On Thursday the SNP won the Airdrie and Shotts Westminster by-election but with a reduced majority.

It was called after Neil Gray resigned to stand for the Scottish parliament.

Mr MacAskill MP bas been contacted by Express.co.uk for comment.
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