Former SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford standing down at next election
The former SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has announced he’ll be standing down at the next general election.
Mr Blackford claimed he had been thinking "long and hard" about whether he would stand again, and insisted he is still "forward to playing my part in the continuing campaign for Scottish Independence”.
The Ross, Skye & Lochaber since 2015, Mr Blackford’s decision is understood to have come about ahead of the SNP general election candidate selection process.
He said: “It has been an enormous privilege to serve as the MP for Ross, Skye & Lochaber since 2015. I am grateful to the SNP membership for selecting me - and I remain privileged and humbled that people across my home constituency have put their trust in me at three elections.
“Serving as the local MP for this vast and cherished Highland and Island area has always been my priority. I was also honoured to lead the SNP Westminster group for more than five years between 2017 and 2022. There were many highlights during that period, including leading the group into the 2019 election and increasing our representation from 35 to 48 seats."That campaign was fought on the twin issues of defending Scotland’s right to choose our own future and standing against the impending threat of Brexit. Those issues remain more relevant than ever, as families across Scotland suffer the impact of Brexit and damaging Westminster policies on the cost of living and our economy."During my time as Westminster leader I was grateful for the support not just from colleagues in Westminster but our friends in the Scottish Government as we came together as team SNP to oppose Brexit, support the First Minister and her team in getting through Covid, as well as standing up for our communities as we continue to battle through the cost of living crisis."An SNP member since the 1970s, since stepping down as leader Mr Blackford has been working on a paper on mapping Scotland’s Industrial Future as the First Minister’s business ambassador
He hopes it will help create sustainable enhancement in economic growth, driving investment and better paid jobs in Scotland.
The SNP stalwart thanked his staff as well as his wife Ann for their support, as well as the voters of his constituency.
He added: “My desire to see Scotland become an independent country, and for our country and its people to achieve its full potential, remains as strong as when I first entered politics decades ago. Although I will not be standing for the Westminster Parliament at the next election, I look forward to playing my part in the continuing campaign for Scottish Independence and supporting our First Minister and the SNP as we go forward to the next election and beyond.”
Responding, SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn MP said: "I would like to put on record my thanks to Ian Blackford for the massive role he has played in making the SNP the formidable force it is in Scottish and UK politics.
"Ian has been a stalwart in the SNP for decades and has played a key role in putting forward the case for Scotland's future as an independent country. He was also pivotal in the SNP's incredible general election win in 2019.
"During his time as SNP Westminster leader, Ian stood across the House of Commons from four Tory Prime Ministers and was a fierce opponent for every one of them - taking them on over Brexit, austerity cuts, Westminster attacks on devolution, and their undemocratic attempts to deny Scotland's right to choose our own future.
"I know Ian will be sorely missed by his constituents and colleagues when he stands down as an MP but I am confident that he will have a key role in continuing the campaign for Scotland to become an independent country."
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