SNP’s ex-Westminster leader Ian Blackford to stand down at next election

Rishi Sunak jokes about Ian Blackford's PMQs contributions

The SNP’s former Westminster leader Ian Blackford has become the latest senior to announce he will be stepping down at the next general election.

His departure comes with the SNP still in disarray after the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon and beginning of a police investigation.

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

He thanked his family, friends and fellow MPs and went on: “My desire to see Scotland become an independent country, and for our country and its people to achieve its full potential, remains as strong as it did when I first entered politics decades ago.”

He vowed to keep campaigning for independence outside Parliament.

The 62-year-old former banker, who sometimes himself as “a humble crofter”, was elected in 2015 winning the Ross, Skye and Lochabar seat off former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy in 2015.

It came in the surge of support for SNP candidates after they had failed to win the Independence Referendum in 2014 but took all but three of the Scottish seats in the following general election.

However, it was also the beginning of what would prove to be a controversial time for Mr Blackford with him being accused of hounding the ex-MP over his drink problems.

Nevertheless, Mr Blackford gained the trust of his colleagues and after Westminster SNP leader Angus Robertson lost his seat in 2017, he was elected to replace him.

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