Ian Blackford steps down as Westminster leader for SNP

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford will not stand again for the position, he has announced.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford will not stand again for the position, he has announced.
Andrew Milligan
George McMillan

By George McMillan

Published: 01/12/2022

- 11:49

Updated: 01/12/2022

- 12:09

Mr Blackford said he told MP colleagues he would not continue in the role he has held for five years

Ian Blackford has stepped down as Westminster leader for SNP.

The SNP’s leader at Westminster has announced he will step down from the role.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Picture date: Wednesday November 30, 2022.
In the run up to the next general election, that the SNP plans to run as a de facto referendum, Mr Blackford said “right now is the time for fresh leadership”.
House of Commons

Ian Blackford said in a statement on Thursday that he will not seek re-election at the party’s AGM next week, claiming it is time for “fresh leadership”.

The SNP is gearing up to fight the next general election as a de facto referendum following the Supreme Court’s ruling that Holyrood cannot legislate for another vote on independence without Westminster’s consent.

Mr Blackford said: “I have today informed SNP MPs that I will not be re-standing as leader of the Westminster parliamentary group at our AGM next week.

“After more than five years in the role, now is the right time for fresh leadership at Westminster as we head towards a general election and the next steps in winning Scotland’s independence.”

Ian Blackford, SNP Westminster Leader after speaking at the SNP conference at The Event Complex Aberdeen (TECA) in Aberdeen , Scotland. Picture date: Saturday October 8, 2022.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford will not stand again for the position, he has announced.
Andrew Milligan

Mr Blackford added that support for independence under his tenure has “continued to grow”, saying: “While I am stepping down as Westminster leader, I will continue in my role as the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, and I have also accepted a new role at the centre of the SNP’s independence campaign, leading on business engagement.

“I would like to thank our MPs and staff for all their support over the past five years.

“Whoever replaces me as Westminster leader will have my full support as, together, we stand up for Scotland’s interests and democratic right to choose our future in an independence referendum.”

Just last week, Mr Blackford told The Scotsman he “looked forward” to putting himself forward for re-election as the party’s Westminster leader, adding that he hoped to be “the MP which leads the SNP group out of Westminster for the last time”.

The decision also comes in the week after fellow SNP MP Stephen Flynn knocked down reports he was seeking to challenge Mr Blackford for the top job.

SNP MP Joanna Cherry, who has regularly been at odds with the SNP’s leadership in recent years, welcomed the announcement.

“I’m pleased to hear this. It’s time for fresh leadership & tolerance of debate & diverse viewpoints,” she said on Twitter.

“I hope @theSNP Westminster group will be now be left to choose our new leader without outside interference & in accordance with our standing orders.”

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