Who could replace Ian Blackford as SNP leader at Westminster?

Ian Blackford has announced he is stepping down as Westminster leader of the SNP, and a new leader is due to be decided at the party’s AGM next week.



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Stephenlynn, Mhairi Black, Alison Thewlis and Alain Smith are all potential candidates to replace Ian Blackford as leader of SNP Westminster. (Source: Parliament)

There is speculation that his resignation followed pressure from fellow MPs to step down amid reports of partisan infighting in part over his handling of the Patrick Grady scandal. Grady was accused of sexual misconduct and an independent inquiry found that the Glasgow North MP had acted inappropriately towards a party staff member on one occasion and was suspended from parliament for two days. Grady later resigned his membership in the party.

But the handling of the complaint has drawn criticism, and the Daily Mail reported in June 2022 that it had obtained a recording of Blackford asking SNP MPs to give Grady their “full and absolute support”. Blackford, who will remain an MP after stepping down from the Westminster presidency, has denied being forced out of office. “I’ve made the decision,” he told BBC Scotland.

But which SNP MP could succeed Blackford? National World is taking a look at who could replace him as Westminster captain at next week’s AGM.

Stephenlynn

MP for Aberdeen South

Stephenlynn is the favorite to replace Ian Blackford as SNP’s Westminster captain. (Source: Parliament)

Stephenlynn is the current favorite to replace Blackford as Westminster leader of the SNP. lynn has been a Member of Parliament since the 2019 general election, but he really made an impact during his tenure as Westminster representative.

He has been outspoken in his hopes of succeeding Blackford and told The Scotsman that he hopes to become “the MP who leads the SNP out of Westminster for the last time.” It is also believed to have the support of much of the SNP’s Westminster group, as the party seeks unity.

SNP MP Richard Thompson endorsedlynn to succeed Blackford, saying he would be “surprised” if anyone ran against him. MP Gordon told BBC Scotland: “There is an emerging consensus that Stephen is someone who has the talent and ability to go further over the next period.”

Alison Thewlis

MP for Central Glasgow

Alison Thewlis was an audiophile member of the SNP Westminster group. (Source: Parliament)

Alison Thewlis has become a fixture in SNP’s Westminster Collection. She has been noted for being vocal in the House on a number of different issues and has been commended for her public speaking in the chamber.

Despite Blackford being a controversial conductor at Westminster towards the end of his term, Thewlis was praised for his work in London. Upon announcing his resignation, the Glasgow Central MP tweeted her thanks to Blackford, saying he had made an “incredible conversion” and had “consistently fought for the cause of Scotland at Westminster”.

Mahiri Black

MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South

Once the youngest MP in the House of Representatives, Mahiri Black has boosted the SNP’s standing in Westminster since its election in 2015. (Credit: Parliament)

When she was elected to Parliament in 2015, Mahiri Black became the youngest person to be elected to Parliament after the Reform Act of 1832. At the time, she was 20 years and 237 days old.

Since his election, Black has had a significant impact on Westminster’s image in the SNP. Several impassioned speeches by Black in the House of Commons went viral on social media.

However, she has faced criticism from members of her own party and reportedly had a “fierce falling out” with fellow MP Joanna Cherry in March 2020 after Black visited a primary school with a drag queen. Likewise, last year, Black came under fire again after she was pictured violating a Scotrail alcohol ban while traveling on a train, which means Black may find it difficult to get the support she needs to hold the party together.

Allen Smith

MP for Stirling

Alain Smith, a former representative to the European Parliament, has denied earlier allegations that he was pressuring Ian Blackford to resign earlier this year. (Source: Parliament)

Former MEP Alain Smith has been in the Westminster group since he unseated Tory MP Stephen Kerr during the 2019 admissions period. There were strong suspicions that Smith, along with fellow SNP Stuart MacDonald, was pressuring Blackford to resign as Leader earlier this year.

Both Smith and McDonald denied the allegations at the time, calling them “junk”. However, could he now be vying for the job now that Blackford has stepped down voluntarily?

Smith was outspoken during his time at Westminster as an SNP representative. When asked if he supported calling an early general election in the wake of Boris Johnson’s resignation in July, he said: “[I] Enjoy what’s going on in the UK government now because it actually reinforces our case that Westminster isn’t working.”

Stuart McDonald

MP for South Glasgow

Stuart MacDonald impressed as the SNP’s defense spokesman amid the Ukraine War. (Source: Parliament)

Stuart MacDonald was elected to Parliament in 2015 to represent Glasgow South. MacDonald has impressed his SNP colleagues in Westminster in recent months as the party’s defense spokesman, a role he took on in 2017.

The MP became popular in the Westminster Group after his outstanding performance in the Chamber when dealing with defense issues such as the Ukraine War. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent response by the United Kingdom has been one of the few issues uniting MPs within their parties, so this may put him in good stead if he decides to run as Westminster leader.

However, as previously mentioned, he and Smith were accused of trying to fire Blackford earlier this year. He also denied the allegations and praised Blackford for his devotion to the role of Leader of Westminster, tweeting: “I am terribly sorry to see my friend @Ianblackford_MP step down as leader. He has introduced some transformation, led us through some of the most tumultuous political times, faced 4 prime ministers, and delivered an amazing result in the 2019 election. All It is in his usual good nature.”