Ian Blackford: former SNP Westminster leader to step down as MP at next general election
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In a statement, he said he’d reflected on his position following his resignation as the head of the party in the House of Commons - amid reports of internal attempts to oust him from the role.
Who is Ian Blackford?
An investment banker by trade, Blackford beat the former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy to win the Ross, Skye and Lochaber seat in the 2015 election. He became Westminster SNP leader two years later, and was a close ally of former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Blackford earned a reputation for withering attacks on the government during Prime Minister’s Questions, and became one of the most recognisable faces in the movement for Scottish independence.
But following internal unrest about the way he handled the case of SNP MP Patrick Grady, who was briefly suspended from Parliament for sexual misconduct, he announced at the end of last year he would step down as Westminster leader. At the time there were suggestions that fellow MPs would have tried to oust him, had he not resigned of his own accord.
What has Blackford said?
Announcing his decision to leave Parliament at the next election, Blackford said: “With the SNP selection process for the next Westminster election taking place over the coming weeks, I have thought long and hard about whether to offer myself as a candidate again”.
“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”.
What about his successor as Westminster leader?
MP Stephen Flynn - who now leads the SNP in the Commons - 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”.
“Ian has been a stalwart in the SNP for decades and has played a key role in putting forward the case for Scotland’s future as an independent country. He was also pivotal in the SNP’s incredible general election win in 2019”.
“During his time as SNP Westminster leader, Ian stood across the House of Commons from four Tory prime ministers and was a fierce opponent for every one of them – taking them on over Brexit, austerity cuts, Westminster attacks on devolution, and their undemocratic attempts to deny Scotland’s right to choose our own future”.
“I know Ian will be sorely missed by his constituents and colleagues”.