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This SNP Politician Has Boycotted An "Anti-Independence" Travel Agent

"I'm boycotting Barrhead Travel as they're on the No side," declared John Mason MSP during a camping trip to Ireland.

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An SNP member of the Scottish parliament sparked anger by declaring that he's boycotted a travel agent because its founder spoke out against independence during the 2014 referendum.

John Mason MSP, who has previously suggested closing down hospitals, tweeted that he didn't use the Scottish company Barrhead Travel to exchange his holiday currency because "they're on the No side".

Five months before the Scottish independence referendum, the founder of Barrhead Travel wrote to his staff warning that a Yes vote would be "a disaster", but added that it was just his personal opinion rather than the company's.

Mason, who was enjoying a camping holiday in Ireland this week, announced his boycott on Twitter.

@HeisenBear78 @Grinbin5 @nogod4dave @lizcampbell41 @fatshez I'm boycotting Barrhead Travel as they're on the No side. Got euros elsewhere.

After his initial tweet caused anger, he attempted to defend himself from the criticism.

@andyrwb @HeisenBear78 @Grinbin5 @nogod4dave @lizcampbell41 @fatshez Sensible companies stayed neutral about the independence referendum.

Mason is the MSP for Glasgow Shettleston, where there is at least one branch of Barrhead Travel in the Forge Shopping Centre, as well as a member of the Scottish parliament's economy and jobs committee.

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said: “The only possible explanation for such a tweet is that he was joking.

"But the danger comes when an element of nationalist followers take the message seriously, and use it as an excuse to behave in an unacceptable way. With that in mind, perhaps Mr Mason could clarify that his remarks were made in jest.”

Scottish Labour's Glasgow MSP James Kelly said: "John Mason must have difficulty going about his daily business if he refuses to deal with those who raised concerns about independence.

"By his own logic he can't do his shopping in Asda or Morrisons. He can't fill up his car in a BP or Shell petrol station. He can't buy any DIY products from B&Q. He can't bank with RBS or Lloyds. He can't go the pictures at the Parkhead Forge in his constituency to watch anything to do with Harry Potter, Judi Dench, Emma Thomson, or a whole load of other entertainers.

"He can't enjoy the music of Rod Stewart, David Bowie, or Susan Boyle. He can't even eat a Tunnock's tea cake. It's barely worth John Mason getting out of bed in the morning."

Kelly added: "There is a serious point to be made here. Forty-nine per cent of voters in John Mason's Glasgow Shettleston constituency backed Scotland remaining in the UK. The idea that an SNP MSP will refuse to deal with No voters is an insult.

"An MSP is elected to serve all constituents, not just those who agree with him or her. It's time for John Mason to grow up and stop trying to divide people based on how they voted in a referendum."

A spokesperson for the company said: "Barrhead Travel has no comment to make regarding the tweet made by John Mason MSP. Barrhead Travel is delighted to be doing business in Scotland.

"The company contributes enormously to the Scottish economy and provides employment for over 800 staff based in Scotland."

Mason has previously caused controversy by calling himself "anti-British", questioning the usefulness of science in explaining the origin of the universe, and asking what the difference between debt and deficit was despite being a member of the Scottish parliament's finance committee at the time.

An SNP Spokesperson said: “All individuals and businesses are entitled to express their point of view and contribute to political debate, and we do not seek to influence people’s consumer choices on the basis of those views.”

Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.

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