Joanna Cherry: who is the SNP MP and QC, and why has she resigned from the party’s NEC over ‘scrutiny’?

The MP for Edinburgh West is the third SNP figure to resign in the last week

Joanna Cherry: who is the SNP MP and QC, and why has she resigned from the party’s NEC over ‘scrutiny’? (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images)
Joanna Cherry: who is the SNP MP and QC, and why has she resigned from the party’s NEC over ‘scrutiny’? (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES/AFP via Getty Images)

A senior figure in the Scottish National Party (SNP) has resigned from the party’s ruling NEC body.

Joanna Cherry QC, the MP for Edinburgh West, announced that she would step down from the ruling committee, saying that “a number of factors” had prevented her from improving “transparency and scrutiny”.

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She Tweeted: “I’ve resigned from the NEC of @theSNP. A number of factors have prevented me from fulfilling the mandate party members gave me to improve transparency & scrutiny & to uphold the party’s constitution. I won’t be making any further comments at this stage.

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Who is Joanna Cherry?

Cherry was one of the more high-profile SNP figures in Westminster, having formerly served as the party’s spokesperson for Home Affairs and Justice.

She is likely best known for her central role in the successful challenge against Boris Johnson’s attempt to prorogue parliament in 2019.

Cherry was one of a handful of figures, believed to be opposed to first minister Nicola Sturgeon and her husband Peter Murrell’s stewardship of the party, to be elected to the party’s ruling committee last year.

As an associate of former SNP leader Alex Salmond, who launched the breakaway Alba Party earlier this year, many had expected Cherry to resign from the SNP to join Alba.

Speaking to the Scotsman, a party source said that one reason Ms Cherry had stood down was because of a failure of the leadership to reform the party’s complaint handling and give a bigger voice to grassroots members.

“There was a bit of a grassroots rebellion last year which got Joanne and others elected.

"People were fed up with the direction of the party on independence, questions were being asked about the financial status of the party, and there was a lot of anger about the party’s stance on reform of the Gender Recognition Act.

"They wanted the party leadership to listen to more voices than just those who seemed to be yes women and men.

The source added: "But many of the people they displaced from the NEC, as a result of the election, were later brought back onto the body as representatives of fringe groups, and had voting rights, so the idea of party democracy went out the window. That has angered a lot of people even more.”

Third resignation in less than a week

Cherry is the third high-profile figure in the party to announce resignations in less than a week, after Fife MP Douglas Chapman resigned as the NEC’s treasurer last week.

He Tweeted: “Despite having a resounding mandate from members to introduce more transparency into the party’s finances, I have not received the support or financial information to carry out the fiduciary duties of National Treasurer.

“Regretfully I have resigned with immediate effect.”

He added that he would not be making a further statement.

Last Wednesday the former MSP Marco Biagi also announced he would quit a role he began in January, working on a new case for independence.

He Tweeted: “In January I was brought on by SNP HQ as a consultant on independence groundwork. This is just a public information that I'm now choosing to move on from that post. It was a pleasure to be asked to work with the party again and I look forward to helping again in future.”