SNP MP says it's 'a matter for events' if Nicola Sturgeon survives as leader

SNP MPs have speculated openly for the first time about the possibility of Nicola Sturgeon being forced to quit as party leader and First Minister.

One Westminster parliamentarian said it was a “matter for events” if the SNP leader remained in post.

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The SNP leader has also come under fire from some in her party over her government's strategy to secure a second independence referendum, which she continues to insist can take place this year despite Boris Johnson's refusal to grant the legal powers to hold a vote.

Asked what he thought about SNP colleagues privately raising questions over Ms Sturgeon’s future, Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil told the BBC: "I suppose that's maybe a matter for events and Nicola Sturgeon - who knows?

“What I'm concentrating on is not so much the personalities involved but it's the issue of independence."

A second MP, East Lothian’s Kenny Macaskill - who served in Mr Salmond’s cabinet alongside Ms Sturgeon - also failed to give the SNP leader his full-throated support, saying: “There is no vacancy."

Mr Macaskill went on: “You never say never in politics - but at the present moment there is no challenge in the SNP, nobody seeks it, we're comfortable with Nicola's leadership.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon campaigning in last year's general election

“We'll see what happens but she still has a lot of fuel in the tank.”

The comments have already provoked public divisions in the SNP, with Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf posting on twitter: "The couple of MPs stirring the pot & trying to disrupt are doing themselves & the Independence cause no good whatsoever."

“We take absolutely nothing for granted, and will continue to work hard to retain the trust of the people of Scotland."