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SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford forced to step down as “coup” gathers pace

Ian Blackford SNP MP

SNP leader Ian Blackford has been forced to stand down as the Scottish party’s leader in the Commons.

Mr Blackford said he would not stand for re-election at the party’s Westminster AGM next week (Tuesday).

Political insiders claim Mr Blackford was ousted out of the job when a rival – Stephen Flynn – claimed he had enough support to challenge him for the leadership.

Only two weeks ago SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon had to head off a coup to remove Mr Blackford.

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In a statement, Mr Blackford said:

“I have today informed SNP MPs that I will not be restanding as leader of the Westminster parliamentary group at our AGM next week.

“After more than five years in the role, now is the right time for fresh leadership at Westminster as we head towards a general election and the next steps in winning Scotland’s independence.”

He said he would continue as Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP.

Ms Sturgeon paid tribute to him, saying:

“He led the group at a time of huge electoral success for the SNP, particularly at the 2019 general election, and has done an outstanding job in holding the Tory government to account and in promoting the case for Independence.

“I would like to place on record my thanks for Ian’s diligence, tenacity, friendship and loyalty in his time as group leader.”

Lately the SNP has become riven by in-fighting as the party pursues independence from England.

One source told The Telegraph:

“A lot of SNP MPs would be happy with ‘ABB’: Anyone But Blackford.”

Craig Hoy, the Scottish Tory chairman, said:

“Ian Blackford has jumped before he was pushed.

“His resignation is a total humiliation for Nicola Sturgeon.”

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