It has been confirmed that Ian Blackford will step down as leader of the SNP group at Westminster.
After five years in the role, Mr Blackford believes it is time for “fresh leadership.”
He stated that he would resign formally at the party’s annual general meeting next week.
In recent weeks, there has been speculation that some SNP MPs were plotting to depose Mr Blackford as group leader.
In a statement, he stated that he would continue to serve as the MP for Ross, Skye, and Lochaber while also accepting a new position at the heart of the SNP’s independence campaign.
“After more than five years in the role, now is the right time for fresh leadership at Westminster,” Mr Blackford said.
Through his weekly appearance at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr. Blackford has become a well-known figure in the House of Commons.
After the Daily Mail reported in June that it had obtained a recording of Mr Blackford urging fellow MPs to give “absolute full support” to SNP MP Patrick Grady, who was suspended for sexual misconduct, he faced calls to resign.
Mr Grady, a former SNP chief whip, was suspended from Parliament for two days in 2016 for making a sexual advance toward a colleague, as well as from the SNP’s Westminster group for a week.
Some SNP MPs were reportedly dissatisfied with Mr Blackford’s handling of the case, with Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn recently dismissing suggestions that
Mr Blackford stated at the time that he intended to run for re-election to the post at the upcoming AGM.
In March, he also denied rumors that he was considering resigning amid new reports of party infighting.
The SNP’s leader, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, said Mr. Blackford led the party’s Westminster group during a period of “huge electoral success.”
“I would like to record my appreciation for Ian’s diligence, tenacity, friendship, and loyalty during his time as group leader,” she added.
“I look forward to working with Ian’s successor as a group leader at Westminster as we continue to make the case for Scotland’s people to have a democratic say over the country’s future.”
Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary, Ian Murray, said Mr. Blackford’s decision to resign demonstrated the SNP’s “total disarray.”
“Nationalist MPs know Nicola Sturgeon’s plan for a de facto referendum is finished before it even begins,” he added, “and they are concerned about Labour gaining seats.”