SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson has announced he is backing fellow MP Stewart Hosie’s bid to become the new nationalist deputy leader.
Mr Hosie, who is the SNP treasury spokesman, is one of three candidates hoping to take over the position from Nicola Sturgeon - who will succeed Alex Salmond as party leader when he steps down next month.
Holyrood transport minister Keith Brown and Angela Constance, the Training, Youth and Women’s Employment Secretary, are also standing for the position.
Mr Robertson said Mr Hosie, the Dundee East MP, is the best choice for the job, and could help nationalists secure a “breakthrough” in next May’s general election.
“I will be voting for Stewart Hosie because of his strong record and experience,” Mr Robertson said.
“He defeated Labour to get to Westminster, delivered a Yes referendum majority in Dundee and has held high office in the SNP as national secretary.
“The next test for the SNP is the Westminster elections and Stewart Hosie is best qualified amongst a strong field to maintain the momentum from the referendum campaign and deliver a Westminster breakthrough.”
Mr Robertson is one of a number of SNP MPs who are backing Mr Hosie’s candidacy, with Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil stating: “We must make a breakthrough at the Westminster elections and Stewart Hosie is the best placed candidate for depute leader to help make this happen.”
Mr Hosie has called for the wider pro-independence movement to consider putting up joint candidates for Westminster, stressing the need to ‘’return the largest-ever number of independence-supporting MPs to Westminster’’.
Mr MacNeil said this is “extremely important”, and added: “There are many SNP members like me who want to see this happen and I hope that they too will vote for Stewart.
Banff and Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford said: “All three candidates to become depute leader of the SNP are extremely able and well qualified, but I believe Stewart Hosie is the best person for the job. We need to make a Westminster breakthrough and having an MP working with Nicola Sturgeon in the leadership team will be a huge boost.”
Mike Weir, the MP for Angus, said: “Stewart is a proven winner against Labour at Westminster and that experience will be crucial as we approach the UK general election. SNP members are very interested in the SNP-Yes Alliance approach that Stewart has been promoting.”