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by Kirsteen Paterson
06 October 2023
Mhairi Black 'should apologise for quit threat', ex-SNP minister says

Mhairi Black MP is the SNP's depute Westminster leader

Mhairi Black 'should apologise for quit threat', ex-SNP minister says

A former SNP minister has called on Mhairi Black to "apologise" for telling bosses she would quit in a row over her successor.

Holyrood told how Black, who is to step down at the next general election, told senior party figures she would walk unless her employee was approved as a potential candidate to replace her.

Robert Innes has worked for the MP for around ten years and is a local councillor in Renfrewshire. 

However, he is understood to have failed Westminster candidate vetting and had his appeal turned down before Black intervened.

The SNP Westminster depute leader is understood to have stated that she would quit on October 4 – the day before the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election – unless that decision was overturned.

Innes announced that he is standing for selection on October 3 and a source said SNP bosses had given in to Black for a "quiet life". Innes, who is the partner of Scottish Government children's minister Natalie Don, is also understood to have threatened to quit the SNP group on Renfrewshire Council and sit as an independent, calling the rejection a "stitch-up".

Party members in Renfrewshire are said to be angry at his late approval, which will see him run against council colleague Jacqueline Cameron, the depute leader of the local authority, in an internal contest.

Senior SNP sources have also told Holyrood they are unhappy at the decision, which failed to prevent the Rutherglen seat going to Labour.

One source said: "It's quite clear to a number of us that the process has not been followed."

Holyrood approached Innes and Black for comment and asked the MP if she is committed to serving out the remainder of her term as SNP depute Westminster leader.

Neither has responded and the SNP said it does not comment "on internal party processes".

Former Scottish Government minister Alex Neil has said that Black "should apologise to the party for this disgraceful episode". He said: "What happens to those candidates who have not been afforded this level of flexibility in how the rules are administered but don't have an MP threatening a by-election if they too don't get the chance to stand as a candidate?"

Scottish Tory deputy chief whip Annie Wells commented: "This is the latest episode in the ever-increasing bitter civil war engulfing the SNP. It is absolutely extraordinary that on the brink of a crucial by-election, the party's deputy Westminster leader appears to have been on the brink of quitting them.

"Humza Yousaf's weak leadership means even loyal figures like Mhairi Black feel emboldened to voice their disapproval at decisions by the leadership, which ultimately saw her get her way."

The SNP said: "Party members in Paisley and Renfrewshire South have the opportunity to democratically select their candidate from a choice of candidates.

"We do not comment on internal party processes."

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