IAN Blackford should really only have faced one or potentially two prime ministers in his five and half years as SNP Westminster leader.

But over the period he stood across from no less than four Tory PMs in the House of Commons as British politics was sent into turmoil, initially by Brexit and then by the man who “got it done” before parties at Number 10 during lockdown led to his demise and that of the Tory party as a whole.

After Blackford announced he would not be running for election again earlier this week, The National’s Holyrood Weekly podcast asked him to lay down exactly what he thought of Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak…

Theresa May

Blackford was first faced with former home secretary May who became PM in 2016 after David Cameron resigned following the Brexit referendum.

He described May as a woman of few words when it came to answering his questions at PMQs every Wednesday.

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But he did also say she was understanding of everyone’s role in the Commons and, particularly in hindsight following the premiership of Johnson, he admitted she at least operated with proper protocols.

He told the podcast: “What I learned with Theresa was that she probably had about five answers to any question I was going to ask and the answer had got nothing to do with the question that I asked.

“But the one thing I would [also] say about Theresa is that she understood we all had a job to do and the protocols worked quite well.

“Things that you needed to know you were told on a need-to-know basis, sharing of national security information and so on. You needed that to do the job.

“If I think back to things like the Salisbury Skripal [incident] – that was a situation where you were on the same side and I make no apology for that because that was an attack somebody in the UK by agents of the Russian state, so why would you not stand together in opposing that? But you need to have all the information to be able to form that judgement, so those things worked quite well.”

Boris Johnson

What Blackford then observed was that during the Johnson era, protocols and being kept in the loop about need-to-know issues “went out the window”.

Despite Johnson’s claims they were pals, Blackford said he had “no relationship” with him and still to this day describes him as a man not fit for public office.

The National: Ian Blackford said Boris Johnson was not fit for public office after facing him through the years as SNP Westminster leaderIan Blackford said Boris Johnson was not fit for public office after facing him through the years as SNP Westminster leader (Image: PA)

He told Holyrood Weekly of a time that summed up just how much “disrespect” Johnson showed for the SNP.

The Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP said: “What I really struggled with, with that man [Johnson] that followed [May], was all that went out the window [respect for protocols]. There was no relationship.

“I got irritated with him when he tried to suggest he and I were pals. We had no relationship.

“I remember one occasion where he responded, or he led for the government, in a debate about cutting international aid and it wasn’t on the order paper.

“It was on the order paper as ‘government speaker to be announced’.

“They didn’t even tell us he was going to be speaking. The first we knew was when he stood up in the chamber and so I couldn’t have responded to him because the rules wouldn’t allow you to do it, because you had to be there at the start.

“That was the kind of disrespect he showed not just to us but to others too. I have to say that was a man that was so unsuited to public office never mind being prime minister.”

Liz Truss

Given she was only in office for fewer than six weeks – during some of which Parliament was suspended due to the Queen’s death - you can count on one hand the amount of times Blackford faced off with Truss.

He didn’t have much to say about her personal performances at PMQs, naturally, as there were hardly enough moments on which to form an opinion.

The dominant memory from that time for Blackford was the mini-budget and Kwasi Kwarteng’s accompanying statement which sent mortgage rates rocketing and the pound plummeting.

Blackford said: “Liz Truss…how could they possibly have chosen someone worse than Boris Johnson? But they did it.

“I think the defining moment of her is not so much her own performances but the financial statement from Kwasi Kwarteng which was a gobsmacking moment and the damage that was done as a consequence of that.”

Rishi Sunak

Before handing over the SNP Westminster leader reins to Stephen Flynn, Blackford faced Sunak on a number of occasions and has since concluded his politics is “repugnant”.

He criticised his approach to migration and his efforts to stop people arriving on small boats from claiming asylum in the UK.

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Summing up his thoughts on Sunak, Blackford said: “I think his politics is pretty repugnant and I actually think he’s more right wing than people think. The whole thing about the small boats is a very good example of that.

“Having said that he doesn’t have the personality of a Boris Johnson or a Liz Truss and at the very least we can be thankful for that.”

The Holyrood Weekly podcast will be available on The National’s website, Spotify, and the Omny streaming platform each Friday.