Tuesday 24 October 2017

SNP MPs hit wrong note when told off as they sing EU anthem in Commons

MPs sang EU anthem Ode To Joy during a crucial vote on legislation concerning Brexit talks in the Commons
MPs sang EU anthem Ode To Joy during a crucial vote on legislation concerning Brexit talks in the Commons

Ministers have been pressed to allow singing in the Commons so MPs can hear more from the "SNP choir".

MPs from the pro-EU SNP were told off by Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle for whistling and singing Ode To Joy as a crucial vote took place on legislation which will allow Theresa May to start formal Brexit talks.

With defeat inevitable for the anti-Brexit contingent, the sound of the official EU anthem drifted across the chamber.

Veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn described the singing as the "only bright spark" of the night and asked Commons Leader David Lidington for a debate on whether procedure during votes could be changed.

Mr Lidington reminded colleagues that those wishing to sing could join the parliamentary choir.

Speaking in the Commons, M r Flynn - who was celebrating his 82nd birthday - said: "A suggestion that might appeal to you with your great record as an innovator and a trailblazer in this House is we should have a debate on procedure during divisions so that we can enjoy the singing of the Scottish National Party choir.

"The only bright spark in yesterday evening's bleak and mean-spirited chauvinism was hearing those glorious words of the European anthem."

Mr Flynn then recited a line of the song in German, adding: "And the essence of the European ideal - Alle Menschen werden Bruder, wo dein sanfter Flugel weilt.

"The looking forward to the great European ideal on which this Government is trampling now, the idea that a day will come when all humanity will be one family."

Mr Flynn (Newport West) was cheered by SNP MPs for his remarks.

Mr Lidington replied: "Well, it's a Welshman who highlights the importance of singing.

"I think my advice to honourable ladies and gentlemen on the Scottish National Party benches would be that we have an all-party, and staff as well as members, parliamentary choir that meets in the crypt every Monday evening.

"I know that many SNP members would be welcome to join those who already participate."

Tory MP Tom Pursglove (Corby) was next to ask a question, although he remarked: "I have to say I'm not sure how to follow that."

Some MPs shouted: "Sing."

Mr Pursglove did not sing.

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