Ian Blackford standing down as SNP Westminster leader
Ian Blackford is to stand down at the SNP’s Westminster leader.
He told his MPs today that he would not seek re-election at the parliamentary group's AGM next week.
He said: “I have today informed SNP MPs that I will not be restanding 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.
“During my time as leader, the SNP won a landslide victory in the 2019 general election, with an increased share of the vote and MPs, and support for independence has continued to grow with polling this week showing a majority in favour.
“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.”
Blackford became the group’s leader in 2017, after Angus Robertson lost his seat to the Conservatives in the general election.
Last month, it was reported that he was facing a leadership challenge from Stephen Flynn, although the MP for Aberdeen South said he had “no intention” of standing.
Reacting to Blackford's decision, SNP MP Joanna Cherry tweeted: “I'm pleased to hear this. It's time for fresh leadership & tolerance of debate & diverse viewpoints.”