The SNP’s longest-serving MP has quit the party’s frontbench team in the Commons after criticising its new Westminster leader.
Pete Wishart said he was “bemused” as to why Stephen Flynn had sought to replace Ian Blackford in the role. And he claimed there had been no opportunity to discuss Mr Flynn’s plans for the group ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
Mr Flynn defeated Alison Thewliss – who is seen as being closer to Nicola Sturgeon – in the ballot of SNP MPs.
There had been rumours for some time that he was “on manoeuvres” to replace Mr Blackford, who had served as group leader for five years and was also a close ally of Ms Sturgeon.
Mr Blackford announced last week that he was standing down from the role, with the vote to replace him being held just days later.
Mr Flynn has already replaced Owen Thompson as chief whip with Martin Hughes-Docherty being appointed to the role, and there are more changes expected to be announced in the coming days.
There have also been reports that Mr Flynn intends to take a more robust approach to the group’s relationship with Ms. Sturgeon and the SNP government at Holyrood. Mr Wishart, who has been an MP since 2001, had been the party’s agriculture spokesman in the Commons.
In his resignation letter to the new leader, he wrote: “I remain bemused as to the reasons why you felt it was necessary to seek a change in our leadership”.
Highlighting an opinion poll published on Wednesday that suggested support for independence was at 56% and the SNP at 51% for a general election – higher than other recent polls – he added: “Usually change of this significance accompanies failure.
“We are looking only at sustained and growing success as a party and a movement and party. I am sure that this will become apparent to me during the course of your leadership. I also look forward to seeing first-hand what you hope to do differently in the day-to-day management of the group.
In other news – Last Dambuster Johnny Johnson has died
The last survivor of World War Two Dambusters has died at the age of 101.
George Leonard “Johnny” Johnson was the last surviving original member of the 617 squadron which destroyed vital dams in Germany during World War Two. Learn more