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Ian Blackford denies being pushed out by SNP MPs

Ian Blackford has denied he was pushed out of his role as SNP Westminster leader. Mr Blackford stood down after five years in the post after weeks of speculation that some colleagues were plotting to replace him. He told BBC Scotland he took the decision to go but also claimed he would have been re-elected for the role.

A new SNP leader will be selected at the Westminster group’s AGM on Tuesday. Only Alison Thewliss, the Glasgow Central MP, has been confirmed as standing so far.

However, there has been widespread speculation that Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn will also enter the race to be the next group leader. Asked on BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show if he was pushed out, Mr Blackford said: “No I took the decision, I need to make sure my talents are used in the right way to support the government and support the first minister.

“I certainly take the view that if I had stood at the AGM that I still would have been the SNP’s Westminster leader but I think now is the right time to allow other people to come forward.”

Mr Blackford, MP for for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, is taking on a new role for the SNP promoting independence to Scotland’s business community. Meanwhile, Ms Thewliss, the Glasgow Central SNP MP, said she was standing as she felt she had a “duty to step up”.

She wrote on Twitter that she would be a “clear contrast to the two men shouting at each [other] across the despatch box at PMQs on a Wednesday, illustrating the alternative vision on offer for Scotland”.

On Friday Kirsten Oswald confirmed she would step down as SNP Westminster deputy leader.

The East Renfrewshire MP tweeted that it “seems sensible to me that a new leader and new deputy pick up the baton and they’ll have my support to do that”.

The new Westminster leader will be selected on Tuesday by the 44 MPs who currently hold the SNP whip. It means the new leader will be in place to face Rishi Sunak at Prime Minister’s Questions the next day.

Source: BBC

In other news – Strikes unfair at Christmas, Tory chairman Nadhim Zahawi says

It is unfair for unions to “disrupt people’s lives” with public-sector strikes at Christmas, Conservative chairman Nadhim Zahawi has said.

Nadhim Zahawi

He said plans were in place to draft in the military to drive ambulances and secure borders if walkouts went ahead.  Learn more

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