Ian Blackford has resigned as the Scottish National Party’s leader in Westminster, after he was effectively ousted by his own MPs.
An SNP MP told City A.M. that Blackford “jumped before he was pushed”, after senior MPs told the 61-year-old that his time was up.
The coup was led by Stephen Flynn, who is now expected to be elected as the party’s new Westminster leader at the SNP’s annual general meeting next week.
Blackford said that after more than five years in the role “now is the right time for fresh leadership at Westminster as we head towards a general election and the next steps in winning Scotland’s independence”.
It is thought that Blackford had lost the confidence of his MPs due to several issues, including his handling of sexual harrassment allegations against ex-SNP MP Patrick Grady.
Blackford was caught on tape telling his MPs to “rally around” Grady, after he was found guilty of sexually harrassing a young member of his staff by parliamentary authorities.
The former investment banker was also criticised internally for being seen as too close to the Westminster establishment and for not providing effective opposition to the government in parliament.
Responding to the news, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “He led the group at a time of huge electoral success for the SNP, particularly at the 2019 general election, and has done an outstanding job in holding the Tory government to account and in promoting the case for Independence.
“I would like to place on record my thanks for Ian’s diligence, tenacity, friendship and loyalty in his time as group leader.”