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by Louise Wilson
06 June 2023
Ian Blackford standing down at next election

Ian Blackford led the SNP at Westminster between 2017 and 2022

Ian Blackford standing down at next election

Ian Blackford, the SNP’s former Westminster leader, is to stand down at the next election.

The MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber said he has “thought long and hard” about the decision in the run-up to the selection process, ultimately deciding against putting himself forward as a candidate.

He said: “Having stood down as SNP Westminster leader, I have gone through a period of reflection as to how I can best assist the party and the cause of independence – a cause I have campaigned for since joining the SNP as a teenager in the 1970s.

“Although I will not be standing for the Westminster Parliament at the next election, I look forward to playing my part in the continuing campaign for Scottish independence and supporting our first minister and the SNP as we go forward to the next election and beyond.”

Blackford became an MP in 2015, taking the seat from former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy, and was returned again in 2017 and 2019.

He took over as his party’s leader at Westminster in 2017 after his predecessor Angus Robertson lost his seat to Douglas Ross.

But he stood down from that role at the end of last year amid reports about internal fractures.

Stephen Flynn took over as the group’s leader in December. Commenting on Blackford’s announcement, Flynn said: “I would like to put on record my thanks to Ian Blackford for the massive role he has played in making the SNP the formidable force it is in Scottish and UK politics.”

The Ross, Skye and Lochaber constituency is set to be broken up ahead of the next general election.

The Boundary Commission for Scotland has recommended it be split three ways, with half of the area moving to the new Inverness-shire and Wester Ross constituency, part becoming part of Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, and the last section becoming part of Argyll, Bute and South Lochaber.

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