While his parliamentary colleagues debate a new welfare payment system in Westminster, British lawmaker Douglas Ross will be in Barcelona’s dazzling Nou Camp stadium, focusing on whether Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez have strayed offside.
Ross, who was elected for the governing Conservatives in June’s parliamentary election, faced criticism on Wednesday when it emerged he would miss the debate and vote to be an assistant referee in Barca’s Champions League clash with Olympiakos.
Scottish National Party (SNP) lawmaker John McNally raised the issue in parliament by waving a red card and asking Prime Minister Theresa May why Ross, who represents a Scottish constituency, had been granted permission to miss the debate.
“What signal does she think this sends to hard working members of the public who are expected to turn up for their day jobs or face sanctions?” he said.
The Prime Minister defended Ross, who also missed a debate last year to officiate Real Madrid’s game against Sporting Lisbon.
“The Scottish Conservative members are doing more for the interests of Scotland in this parliament than the Scottish Nationalists have ever done,” May said.
Several members of May’s party are expected to side with the opposition Labour Party during the symbolic debate in parliament and demand a halt to the implementation of the new payment system, known as “Universal Credit” which has been dogged by design problems.
A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives also defended Ross, saying: “Despite what the SNP thinks, the people of (his constituency) Moray are right behind Douglas and his refereeing, as they showed decisively when they elected him as their MP just a few months ago.”