IAN Blackford led moving tributes to the late SNP stalwart Winnie Ewing in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

The party’s former Westminster leader used an adjournment debate to invite MPs to share their memories of Madame Ecosse, who held office at Westminster, Holyrood and the European Parliament during an illustrious career.

After winning the Hamilton by-election in 1967 – a seat she held for three years – Ewing was SNP MP for Moray and Nairn before joining the European Parliament for the Highlands and Islands for 20 years.

She was then elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999 and served until 2003.

Blackford opened the debate expressing how she was unique and “lit a spark” that continues to shine.

READ MORE: Mhairi Black to quit as SNP MP at next General Election

He told the House: “The fact she served in three legislatures makes her unique as a Scottish politician.

“But it’s not that accomplishment of that elected record that makes her unique.

“As our colleague George Reid said ‘occasionally, just very occasionally, a person emerges from the mirk of daily life with the vision and determination to change things for good, to set a country on a different path’.

“That was Winnie.”

Speaking about her famous “stop the world” speech after she won the Hamilton by-election, Blackford said: “She lit a spark that night and that spark has shone brightly ever since.”

During the debate, Blackford paid tribute to Ewing’s achievements on the European stage, including her work on the Lome Convention and the Erasmus programme.

He said: “Winnie was a Scottish Nationalist, but she was a European and an internationalist. She was so proud of what the European Union had meant for Scotland.

“She was so proud of the role that she had played as a parliamentarian and the friendships she had developed.”

Although there was a distinct lack of opposition politicians in the chamber for the debate, there were a few who shared emotional stories of Ewing and paid their heartfelt respects.

Scottish LibDem MP Jamie Stone remarked upon a time where Ewing showed her support for his farming parents.

He told the House how in the late 1960s his parents had established a cheese business and moved south of the Border. They had a stand at a food fair at one stage and had asked Scottish MPs if they would visit it. Only Ewing responded.

Stone said: “My parents never forgot that, it meant a huge amount to them.”

READ MORE: Met Police to reopen probe into potential Covid-19 breaches at Tory HQ

He mentioned how Ewing also wrote to his mother after his father died, adding: “This lady transcended party politics, she cut right through to ordinary folk in Scotland and that was a tremendous strength.”

Ewing also received tributes from Democratic Unionist Party MP Jim Shannon and Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams.

Shannon said: “I admired her courage and advocacy and the passion and desire that she had for her country.”

Williams shared how he fondly remembered Ewing being elected at the same time as Gwynfor Evans – the first MP to represent the Welsh nationalist party.

The debate also provided an opportunity for MPs to share funny memories of Ewing, as Blackford recalled an amusing time he and former MSP Colin Campbell visited her at Quarriers home in Inverclyde.

Blackford said: “Colin had made the fateful error of phoning the nursing home to say we’d be there in a few minutes.

“The upshot of that was that rather than going to visit her in the nursing home, there she was at the door with her coat on and her handbag saying ‘right boys where are we going?’.”

Ewing died aged 93 last month, leaving behind her children Fergus, Annabelle and Terry.

SNP MP Philippa Whitford said during the debate: “We are celebrating Winnie as an absolute icon for the SNP and Scotland, but if I could just highlight we need to remember she was also a woman and a mother, and send the condolences of everyone on these benches and from this whole House to Fergus, Annabelle and Terry.”