Ian Blackford, the SNP MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, has ruled himself out of the running in the race to become the new SNP depute leader.

Tweet from Ian Blackford MP saying "I have chosen not to allow my name to go forward for nomination for SNP depute leader to concentrate on my role as a Highland MP and SNP Westminster leader. I look forward to working with the new depute leader."

Speaking to the Press and Journal the SNP’s Westminster group leader said “To be honest I had made my mind up last weekend but I wanted the opportunity to reflect,” 

“I was being given a lot of encouragement by people in Westminster, in Holyrood and elsewhere in the party and I wanted to be able to reflect on that.

First and foremost for me it is an absolute privilege to be the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber. I think there is something special that comes from being a Highland MP.

I am the Westminster leader and that is not something I anticipated. I am very much enjoying leading the group and I think there is an immense task over the coming period getting through the morass of Brexit.

I take quite seriously the responsibilities I’ve got as leader in Westminster and supporting the government in Holyrood.

If I was depute leader as well, something would have to give. I think it is maybe simply too much to ask.

I look forward to working with whoever becomes depute leader. I want to be part of that team but I want to do it as leader at Westminster and as a constituency MP.”

The depute leader vacancy has arisen following the resignation of Angus Robertson earlier this month and Mr Blackford’s decision not to run has come as a surprise to many given that he is the leader of the SNP’s Westminster group of MPs, a position in which he succeeded Mr Robertson.

Tweet after the announcement Mr Blackford’s wife, Ann, said “Ian thought long and hard about standing for depute leader. He feels privileged to be an MP and also Leader of the Westminster Group. He gives all to any job in undertakes. Who ever wins must work in tandem with Nicola to enable all to get on with the day job and win indyref2.”

Also ruling himself out of the race was Scottish transport minister, Humza Yousaf, who said “For those who care about these things, I’m happy to rule myself OUT of SNP’s Depute contest Many reasons, but primarily I have a pretty busy life . Proud to be an active constituency MSP & have one hell of an intense & busy portfolio, I wouldn’t have enough hours in the day!”

Mr Yousaf added “Personally speaking I have also, for the first time in as many years as I can remember, struck a decent work-life balance. I’m trying to spend more time with the people I love, actually going to family events not having to give apologies!

Is that a tad bit selfish? Maybe.

However, there’s plenty of talent within SNP, there will be great slate of candidates putting their names forward. For me, I have a time consuming Govt job, am dedicated to my constituents & lucky to have many ppl I love that I want to spend more time with. Best of luck to all!”

At the time of writing the only person to have officially declared their candidacy for the vacant position is Glasgow Cathcart MSP, James Dornan, who made his pitch for depute leader last week in an article for The National.

Others that are thought will enter the race include:

Aberdeen North MP – Kirsty Blackman

Edinburgh East MP – Tommy Sheppard

Livingston MP – Hannah Bardell

Perth & North Perthshire MP – Pete Wishart

Central Ayrshire MP – Dr Philippa Whiteford

Edinburgh South West MP – Joanna Cherry

Who would you like to see as the new SNP depute leader? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

This website relies on donations from you, our readers, to keep going. To find out why and what we use the donations for as well as the ways you can donate please visit the donations page.