Sturgeon rejects claims of ‘coup’ in opposition to Blackford as he stands down


Ian Blackford introduced on Thursday he wouldn’t search re-election to the publish on the SNP’s AGM subsequent week, simply weeks after experiences Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn was manoeuvring to take over.

Mr Flynn stepped in to disclaim the rumours on Twitter, whereas Mr Blackford instructed the Scotsman simply final week he would search re-election and hoped to be “the MP which leads the SNP group out of Westminster for the final time”.

Chatting with STV Information after First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon stated: “No, it’s not a coup.

“Ian has been Westminster group chief for 5 years now and he represents one of many furthest flung constituencies within the nation.

“He’s making the choice given all that lies forward for the SNP, given all of the thrilling work that lies forward for the SNP, that that is the suitable resolution for him to move on the baton.

“It’s as much as the group now after all to contemplate who that’s, however for now I need to pay tribute to the unimaginable, excellent contribution that Ian Blackford has made.”

Stories on Thursday afternoon steered Mr Flynn has the required assist to take over from the incumbent at subsequent week’s vote.

Asserting his resolution, Mr Blackford stated: “I’ve at this time knowledgeable SNP MPs that I can’t be re-standing as chief of the Westminster parliamentary group at our AGM subsequent week.

“After greater than 5 years within the position, now’s the suitable time for contemporary management at Westminster as we head in direction of a common election and the subsequent steps in profitable Scotland’s independence.”

Mr Blackford added that assist for independence underneath his tenure has “continued to develop”, saying: “Whereas I’m stepping down as Westminster chief, I’ll proceed in my position because the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, and I’ve additionally accepted a brand new position on the centre of the SNP’s independence marketing campaign, main on enterprise engagement.

“I wish to thank our MPs and employees for all their assist over the previous 5 years.

“Whoever replaces me as Westminster chief may have my full assist as, collectively, we get up for Scotland’s pursuits and democratic proper to decide on our future in an independence referendum.”

The final 12 months of his management has been marred by his dealing with of allegations of sexual misconduct in opposition to certainly one of his personal MPs.

Patrick Grady was accused by a celebration staffer following an incident in a London pub in 2016.

He was later suspended from the Commons after an impartial investigation and resigned his social gathering membership, however the member of employees repeatedly criticised the SNP’s dealing with of the problem, saying his working setting had turn into “insupportable”.

Mr Blackford was additionally heard on a secret recording of a Westminster group assembly urging fellow SNP MPs to present Mr Grady their assist.

SNP MP Joanna Cherry, who has often been at odds with the SNP’s management lately, welcomed the announcement of Mr Blackford’s departure.

She tweeted: “I’m happy to listen to this. It’s time for contemporary management & tolerance of debate & various viewpoints.

“I hope @theSNP Westminster group will now be left to decide on our new chief with out outdoors interference & in accordance with our standing orders.”

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy claimed Mr Blackford had been “jumped earlier than he was pushed”, including the announcement was a “complete humiliation for Nicola Sturgeon”.

He added: “She shamefully stood by her Westminster chief earlier this 12 months regardless of his appalling dealing with of the complaints made in opposition to Patrick Grady.

“This confirmed a complete lack of judgment by Nicola Sturgeon. Ian Blackford ought to have been sacked instantly for his disgraceful behaviour however he was allowed to remain in publish for a number of months and now will get to dictate the phrases on which he leaves.”

Shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray stated “the Nats are deserting the sinking ship”.

The Labour MP added: “Nationalist MPs know Nicola Sturgeon’s plan for a de facto referendum is completed earlier than it’s even began and are nervous about Labour gaining seats.”

Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine stated her social gathering is “respiratory down (Ian Blackford’s) neck” in his Ross, Skye and Lochaber constituency.

Mr Blackford holds a majority of just below 10,000 votes in his seat.

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