THE Speaker has responded after First Minister Humza Yousaf accused him of demonstrating the “institutional racism” in the UK by snubbing Diane Abbott at PMQs.

The SNP leader said that Lindsay Hoyle’s position as Speaker of the House of Commons had become untenable after he ignored Abbott indicating her wish to speak on 46 separate occasions, despite other MPs discussing “racist” comments made about her.

In an exclusive interview with Owen Jones for The National, Yousaf said: “I have to say his most recent actions, in relation to PMQs, not picking Diane Abbott, to me that was a demonstration of the fact that we continue to face, as people of colour, institutional racism.

“The fact that a black female MP is not able to speak for herself, but other people are able to speak for her, and the Speaker of the House of Commons ignores her but is willing to take others that are not the order paper, to me that is a demonstration of institutional racism.”

The Speaker's office initially claimed there was not enough time to allow Abbott to speak, a claim given short shrift as PMQs has been known to run beyond 50 minutes in the past. The March 13 session lasted for around 36 minutes.

Responding to Yousaf's comments in a statement issued through a spokesperson, the Speaker’s office said: “We are disappointed that Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday have been interpreted in this way.

“The Speaker is dedicated to supporting backbenchers of all backgrounds.”

Yousaf’s condemnation of the Speaker came after he and other SNP figures also hit out at Hoyle for his handling of a motion they proposed on a ceasefire in Gaza.

In February, Hoyle was left fighting for his job after he ignored official advice and broke with parliamentary precedent – a key pillar of the UK’s uncodified constitution – and allowed a Labour amendment on SNP Opposition Day.

As a direct result of Hoyle’s action, which came after discussions with Keir Starmer, the SNP’s motion was never put to a vote and the Labour leader was able to avoid a rebellion among his MPs.

READ MORE: Keir Starmer will NOT face Commons investigation over Lindsay Hoyle allegations

Speaking to Jones in an interview which will be published in full next week, the First Minister questioned why Hoyle had changed the rules on the Gaza motion, but showed no flexibility to allow Abbott to speak.

Yousaf said: “There was definitely, I think, harassment [of the Speaker from Starmer].

“There was definitely intimidation. I suspect bullying as well. That is certainly the suspicion. That is certainly the worry and the concern that we've got.

“Why else would the Speaker take the unprecedented action of effectively bending or breaking rules unilaterally in order to take the action that he took?

“He said: ‘I was concerned about MPs’ safety’ … Well if he was going to do that for MPs’ safety, I thought he would have taken Diane Abbott at PMQs, who has been threatened with being shot for being a black female MP.

“He didn't decide to break the rules then, in order to hear her concerns about her safety.”

The National: Top Tory donor Frank Hester reportedly said that MP Diane Abbott made him 'want to hate all black women' and that she 'should be shot'

The storm around Abbott began after The Guardian reported that top Tory donor Frank Hester (above) had said she “should be shot” and that she made him “want to hate all black women”.

Hester, who has given £10 million to the Conservatives with another £5m reportedly as yet undeclared, was widely accused of being “racist” and the party faced calls to return his money.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has insisted the Tories are “absolutely transparent” despite refusing to be drawn on whether or not the party had accepted a further donation.

He told reporters on Friday: “We follow all the right procedures when it comes to declaring our donations, and when the time is right we will declare any donations we have received recently.”

He added: “We absolutely are transparent. We follow all the rules, the regulations, we believe in that transparency.

“Many of the laws about it we actually passed ourselves and the Conservative Party fully complies with all the requirements to be transparent about our donations.”