Ian Blackford: I believe I would have won if I’d put myself forward in SNP race

Ian Blackford has said he could have won the SNP’s race to elect a new Westminster leader if he had put himself forward.

Speaking to TalkTV on Wednesday evening, Mr Blackford, who stepped down as the party’s Westminster leader last week, told Jeremy Kyle: “I could have seen this off, I believe I would have won if I’d put myself forward.”

SNP rules say the leader should stand every year at an annual general meeting.

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Mr Blackford will now take a role as the SNP’s business ambassador, making the case for independence to businesses.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London.

He was succeeded by Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn on Tuesday amid speculation of a coup against him.

Mr Blackford 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.

“I’ve started, by the way, I’ve had two meetings today, actually. Being unleashed, I can do the things that maybe I’ve not always been able to do.”

Mr Blackford, who represents Ross, Skye and Lochaber in Parliament, added: “At the end of the day I’ve moved on. There’s an opportunity there and Stephen’s taken that. He has all my best wishes.”

The former leader even joked about writing a book about his time in office.

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“I am delighted. I’m going to get my life back,” he said.

“I’d been Westminster leader for five and a half years. You’ve talked about four prime ministers.

“I’ve enjoyed it. I mean, maybe if I do write a book I’ll call that I’ve Had A Ball, because I have had a ball.”

However, Mr Blackford said the commute to Westminster “took its toll”.

“I live right at the north end of the Isle of Skye. I have a horrendous commute – I frequently have to leave at the weekend (from Scotland) and get back off (home) as we go into the weekend.

“I’m not complaining about that. That’s how it’s been. But now I’ve got the opportunity to change tack, change direction.

“I’m going to be the First Minister’s business ambassador in Scotland, still represent my constituents, but have a better work-life balance. And, you know, I took the view that it was time to to move on, to stand down.”