The SNP’s leader at Westminster has announced he will stand down, saying it is time for “fresh leadership.”
Ian Blackford, who has led the SNP group since 2017, said in a statement Thursday that he will not seek re-election as leader at the party’s AGM next week, though will remain as a Westminster MP.
Party leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon paid tribute to his “diligence, tenacity, friendship and loyalty.”
She confirmed she has asked him to take on a role as part of the central SNP team working on the independence campaign.
The SNP is preparing to fight the next general election as a de facto referendum following the Supreme Court’s ruling last week that Holyrood cannot legislate for another vote on independence without Westminster’s consent.
Blackford said: “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.”
The move signals a very public change of direction for Blackford, who only last week told The Scotsman he “looked forward” to putting himself forward again as Westminster leader.
In truth rumors about his future had swirled for months, since POLITICO first reported back in March that he was considering standing down.
It is not yet known who will replace Blackford as SNP leader in Westminster. Fellow SNP MP Stephen Flynn recently denied reports that he was seeking the top job.