Ian Blackford admits ‘coup’ forced his exit as SNP’s Wesminster leader

Ian Blackford says he's stepping down as SNP Westminster leader

Ian Blackford admitted he was forced out as the SNP’s Westminster leader in a “coup”.

The SNP MP said he faced a “challenge” from colleagues as there were some who “wanted my bum off that front bench”.

Speaking to Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith at For The Many Live at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, he said: “I think it’s fair to say – how can I put it – that perhaps there were some people that wanted my bum off that front bench.

“I knew that there was going to be a challenge that was coming my way.  

“I knew that there was a small group of people that for whatever reason wanted to see a change.”

Mr Blackford said he discussed it with then Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon, who offered to make him the SNP’s business ambassador.

He conituned: “I said, fine, now’s the time then. I’m going to take this decision myself, that I’m going to move on, and I’ll take this position that you’re offering, which Humza has reappointed me at.

“I think if I’d put myself forward for election in December – because in the SNP Westminster group you have to put yourself forward every year – and I think if I’d stood in that election I would have won, albeit that there would have been some opposition to me.

“I’m happy to leave others now to steer the ship through the next period.”

Asked whether he thought senior figures in the SNP regarded it as a “coup”, he replied: “Yes.”

When it was put to him that he did not use the term at the time, Mr Blackford said: “I’m a loyalist in that sense.

“But I think, for whatever reason, there was a number of people that would rather have seen me off the front bench.”

Asked why he thought that was, he added: “I think people have their own reasons and their own ambitions and it’s probably best just to leave it at that.”

Mr Blackford stepped down as the SNP’s Westminster leader in December 2022.

The move meant he avoided a possible challenge from his successor Stephen Flynn amid speculation that some of his MPs were plotting to replace him.

In June, Mr Blackford announced he is stepping down as the MP fro Ross, Skye and Lochaber at the next general election.

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