Joanna Cherry to lead SNP justice fight in Commons

Joanna Cherry celebrates on election night. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Joanna Cherry celebrates on election night. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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Joanna Cherry has been named as the SNP’s justice and home affairs spokeswoman at Westminster.

The high-flying QC’s post was one of the first appointments announced from among the new 56-strong Nationalist group in the Commons.

Ms Cherry, who won the Edinburgh South West seat vacated by former Chancellor Alistair Darling in last week’s election, said she was delighted to be given the key role.

She has been an advocate for about 20 years and said her legal experience would be useful in the new post. “I’m very excited about it,” she said.

Ms Cherry – who co-founded Lawyers For Yes during the referendum – said one of her first tasks would be to mount a robust opposition to the Conservatives’ plans to repeal the Human Rights Act.

She said: “Clearly it would be very retrogressive for the UK to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights and repeal the Human Rights Act. The SNP will be opposing that very strongly.”

And she said she would also be raising concerns about the Tories’ lack of consultation with the Scottish Government over aspects of the proposed counter-extremism legislation which would have implications in devolved areas.

In other appointments, former SNP leader Alex Salmond has been made foreign affairs spokesman, Eilidh Whiteford is work and pensions spokeswoman and SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie continues as economy spokesman.

The posts were announced by SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson, who said further appointments would follow in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs the election result strengthened the hand of the Scottish Government in seeking to secure the best deal for Scotland from Westminster. In a statement in the Scottish Parliament, she said the work of the Smith Commission provided “a strong starting point” for the further devolution of powers. But she said the Smith proposals did not go far enough and the election result showed that view was shared by many voters.

“If the Prime Minister and his government mean what they say about respecting the outcome of the election in Scotland, they must now agree with us a process that looks again at the Smith Commission proposals, with a view to extending devolution even further.”

She said the SNP wanted full financial responsibility. “However, as a matter of priority, we want to see devolution of powers over employment policy, including the minimum wage, welfare, business taxes, national insurance and equality policy – the powers we need to create jobs, grow revenues and lift people out of poverty.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com