Former SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford is to stand down as an MP at the next general election.
The Ross, Skye and Lochaber representative stood down from the position in December 2022, to take on a new role at “the centre of the SNP’s independence campaign”, leading on “business engagement”.
He previously spent seven years in the role and faced four different Prime Ministers in the Commons, but was replaced by Stephen Flynn in what some described as a coup.
He will now leave the backbenches altogether at the next ballot – which is due to be held on or before January 28, 2025.
In a statement, Blackford said he had thought “long and hard” about whether to stand in the vote, adding he was “privileged and humbled” to represent the party at Westminster.
He added: “My desire to see Scotland become an independent country, and for our country and its people to achieve its full potential, remains as strong as when I first entered politics decades ago.
“Although I will not be standing for the Westminster Parliament at the next election, I look forward to playing my part in the continuing campaign for Scottish independence and supporting our first minister and the SNP as we go forward to the next election and beyond.”
Blackford said he would remain as a business ambassador to First Minister Humza Yousaf going forward.
He was elected to the seat in 2015, defeating former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy in the process.
He said he had been working on a new document “mapping Scotland’s industrial future,” which would be available in the next few weeks, adding he hoped it would lead to “sustainable enhancement in economic growth, driving investment and better paid jobs in Scotland and raising living standards”.
Flynn, his successor, paid tribute to Blackford’s longevity, adding he would be “sorely missed by his constituents”.
“Ian has been a stalwart in the SNP for decades and has played a key role in putting forward the case for Scotland’s future as an independent country. He was also pivotal in the SNP’s incredible general election win in 2019,” he added.
“During his time as SNP Westminster leader, Ian stood across the House of Commons from four Tory prime ministers and was a fierce opponent for every one of them – taking them on over Brexit, austerity cuts, Westminster attacks on devolution, and their undemocratic attempts to deny Scotland’s right to choose our own future.
“I know Ian will be sorely missed by his constituents and colleagues when he stands down as an MP but I am confident that he will have a key role in continuing the campaign for Scotland to become an independent country.”
More to follow.