SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has accused Boris Johnson’s office of smearing the politician and putting his own family’s safety at risk.
The row surrounds Johnson’s holiday which was spent in Blackford’s constituency of Ross, Skye and Lochaber constituency, after the SNP politician was blamed for pictures being published in the Daily Mail of the location.
Blackford condemned the ‘violation’ of Johnson’s privacy but added a ‘senior Conservative source in Downing Street’ was reported to have said the ‘finger of blame for all this getting out is being pointed at the SNP, particularly Ian Blackford who is local’.
Raising a point of order in the Commons, Blackford said: ‘This allegation and briefing was entirely and deliberately false, it was a targeted political smear from the prime minister’s office.
‘The photographer who provided the material for the original Daily Mail front page later confirmed that I was not the source in revealing the prime minister’s location – a location, I might add, I was not even aware of.
‘However, by this point the damage was done. This matter has not only been the worst kind of political smear, the false allegation has equally resulted in security implications for myself and my family given its serious and personal nature.’
Blackford said threats against him were made on social media, adding: ‘It’s a very serious situation when the apparatus of UK government can be deployed in this way, manufacturing false briefings in order to attack an opposition politician.’
In the Commons Johnson said he had a ‘wonderful’ staycation in Blackford’s constituency, adding to the SNP MP: ‘I’m very happy to accept the assurances that he gives.
‘However, I just draw his attention… to a tweet by a chap called Torcuil Crichton on August 17 saying: ‘Ferocious midge count in Wester Ross tonight, I hear. Must be bad if you’re fair-skinned and camping’ to which an account, which purports to be (Blackford) but I’m sure it isn’t because of what he’s just said, says: ‘I wonder if an education at Eton stands you in good stead for these blighters’.
‘Anyway, I’m happy to accept his assurances and protestations and I think we should leave it at that.’
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle expressed concerns about the security implications for both Johnson and Blackford, adding to MPs: ‘Let’s be very, very careful and let’s learn from this.’