SNP MP quits as he launches devastating attack on new leader

SNP 'beginning to come apart at the seams' says Galloway

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An SNP MP quit his frontbench role this morning as he launched a sensational attack on the party’s new Westminster leader. Perth and North Perthshire MP Pete Wishart stepped back from his role as environment spokesman saying he had “never had the opportunity to experience the delights of the backbench”.

Lashing out at Stephen Flynn, who took over from Ian Blackford as SNP Westminster leader on Tuesday, he said he was “bemused” at the decision to change the man at the top.

Mr Wishart wrote in his resignation letter to Mr Flynn: “I remain bemused as to the reasons why you felt it was necessary to seek a change in our leadership, particularly when we see yesterday’s opinion poll, which shows support for independence at a near all-time high and support for the SNP in Westminster at an unprecedented 51 percent.

“Usually change of this significance accompanies failure, whereas we are looking at sustained and growing success as a movement and party.

“I am sure that this is something that will become apparent to me during the course of your leadership.

“I also look forward to learning first-hand what you hope to do differently in the day-to-day management of the group.”

However, the Perth and Perthshire North MP said Mr Flynn has his “full support”, adding “I remain at your service if you do wish to make use of my experience in the Westminster group.”

Mr Wishart was first elected to Westminster in 2001, and has held a variety of frontbench posts.

The resignation letter is the latest evidence of a deep rift within the SNP over the direction of the party.

For months there had been speculation the Isle of Skye MP was preparing to step down amid internal party wrangling with ambitious SNP politicians secretly looking to oust him from the top job.

Mr Blackford was replaced after serving for five years and a half years as the SNP’s Westminster leader.

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SNP rules say the leader should seek re-election every year at an annual general meeting but the former top man made the decision to bow out.

It is thought he had been told in advance that Mr Flynn was planning to challenge him for the leadership and had significant support from other MPs.

Last night Mr Blackford appeared to admit there had been attempts to organise a coup against him, telling TalkTV: “Politics is a dirty business, isn’t it?”

“I could have seen this off, I believe I would have won if I’d put myself forward,” he said.

“Look, politics is a dirty business, isn’t it? We all know that.

“You’re never going to please all the people, all of the time.

“Some people have a different way of wanting to do things and I think it’s fair to say that some people probably wanted to see the end of my backside off the front bench. That’s fine. They’re entitled to that.

“I discussed things with the First Minister and I said, ‘look, give me a job because we need to convince people in the business community that we have a plan for an independent Scotland’. I’m really relishing doing that.”

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