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Mhairi Black to step down at election, citing ‘toxic’ Westminster environment

04 Jul 2023 3 minute read
Photo UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

The SNP’s deputy Westminster leader Mhairi Black has said she will step down at the next general election, citing the “toxic” environment at Westminster as the reason for her departure.

Speaking to The News Agents podcast, the Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP said Westminster is “one of the most unhealthy workplaces that you could ever be in”.

She was first elected in 2015, when a surge in support for the SNP saw the party win almost every seat in Scotland. At that point she was the “baby of the House” – the youngest MP.

She told Emily Maitlis: “I wanted to be able to have a human conversation about why I’ve made the decision not to stand at the next general election.

“I thought there is no better person to have a conversation with than yourself… I’m stepping down at the next general election.”

Asked why she made the decision, the MP was highly critical of the environment at Westminster.


She said: “Honestly, because I’m tired is a big part of it. And the thing that makes me tired is Westminster.

“I think it is one of the most unhealthy workplaces that you could ever be in. It’s a toxic environment.

“Just the entire design of the place and how it functions is just the opposite of everything that I find comfortable…

“It’s definitely a poisonous place.

“Whether that’s because of what folk can get away with in it or the number of personal motivations and folk having ulterior motives for things, and it’s just not a nice place to be in.”

The SNP MP said she trusts her parliamentary colleagues but those from other parties make it difficult for her to “switch off”.

She added: “Given the unsociable hours that Westminster works as well, it feels like you’re spending a lot of your life there.

“In the run-up to the next election, I’ve realised, that will be almost 10 years that I’ll have been elected.

“So, a third of my life I’ve spent in Westminster, which gives me the ick.”

Former SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon paid tribute to Ms Black, tweeting: “Both gutted by and entirely understanding of this. Her reasons resonate.

“But what a loss of a unique talent, not just to the SNP but to politics generally. I only hope it’s temporary.”

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Sean Thompson
Sean Thompson
11 months ago

How sad. She is an honest and forthright breath of fresh air in that fetid chamber and one of the very few people in the Commons who isn’t a self serving careerist. Good luck to her.

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
11 months ago

She is a young woman and says “Given the unsociable hours that Westminster works as well, it feels like you’re spending a lot of your life there.” Isnt she lucky she can just walk away most working people do not have that luxury and spend most of their lives working!! Bet she has some high paid cushy job lined up- Politicians got to love them all lol

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
11 months ago

Time will tell on the ‘cushy job’ issue but it does not detract from the point she is making. Workplaces should not be toxic be it parliament or the supermarket where one stacks the shelves. The Suma Wholefoods company is a an example of how it can be done better which could be widely copied but those with the power to make those changes are usually reactionary white males. How we bring them round to being more human friendly I do not know.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
11 months ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

Joining a union helps. Especially if it’s an industrial union such as the IWW or the IWGB

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
11 months ago

All workers have the option of joining a union and agitating for improved working conditions and better pay. If workers can’t be bothered to organise, then they only have themselves to blame for having to endure bad working conditions.

It also has to be said that all adults have a vote, and that they should perhaps use it wisely and vote for parties that reflect their interests.

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