Joanna Cherry and Tommy Sheppard rule themselves out of SNP depute leadership race

Written by John Johnston on 5 March 2018 in News

The two Westminster MPs have said they will not stand as SNP leader

Tommy Sheppard - Image credit: UK Parliament

Two prominent SNP MPs have dropped out of the race to become the next depute leader of the party.

Despite being early favourites, frontbenchers Joanna Cherry and Tommy Sheppard have both ruled themselves out of the contest for the senior role.

The race was sparked after Angus Robertson stepped down from the post last month, after losing his Westminster seat to Conservative Douglas Ross in last year’s general election.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford, and Perth and North Perthshire MP Pete Wishart have also ruled themselves out as contenders.

In a tweet, Cherry, the party's justice and home affairs spokesperson at Westminster, said she had decided she would "best further the cause of independence" by remaining in her current role.

An SNP source told Holyrood’s sister site PoliticsHome that the Edinburgh South West MP had agreed to step aside from the contest on the understanding that Sheppard would be running for the role.

But writing in The Herald, he said he had “plenty to be getting on with” in his role as SNP Cabinet Office spokesman and as “part of the wider campaign for independence.”

“I’m much more at ease as a protagonist than a referee,” he added.

“I want to be free to contribute and lead debate about the policy we should advocate and that’s harder if you’re running the policy-making machinery.”

But he warned that the contest had to be about more than deciding the timing for another referendum on Scottish independence.

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