NICOLA Sturgeon’s authority within her party is “absolutely solid”, Scotland’s Social Justice Secretary has said following reports of an internal split after Stephen Flynn’s election.
Flynn was elected as the party’s new Westminster leader last week after Ian Blackford ended his five-year stint in the role.
But as three SNP frontbenchers resigned following the vote, with Pete Wishart questioning Flynn in his statement, rumours of unhappiness among parliamentarians were fuelled.
It had been reported that someone close to Sturgeon called Flynn urging him not to stand before Blackford took the decision to step down – though Flynn denies this happened.
And in the Sunday Times today, a source close to the FM accused rebel MPs of “outrageous egos and naivety”.
They warned SNP representatives at Westminster against “supporting policies in conflict with Scottish Government policy”, amid speculation Aberdeen South MP Flynn is opposed to Sturgeon’s position on new North Sea oil and gas development.
One SNP source told The National Flynn’s appointment represents an end to “remote control” of the Westminster group from Edinburgh.
Unionist media outlets have jumped on reports of a rift, with right-wing commentators arguing Sturgeon’s authority is now in question.
Appearing on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show, Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison was asked if the First Minister’s position is solid.
"Yes it is,” the MSP told Martin Geissler.
“Absolutely solid and people recognise the leadership that Nicola Sturgeon is providing in these tough times, and that is united across the party absolutely."
Last week, SNP frontbencher Stewart Hosie called reports of disagreements “complete fiction”.
“I have to say I did see some of these stories over the past few days and on a couple of occasions I nearly spat out my coffee with laughter. Not one word of these divisions is true. I’ve no idea where these stories have come from,” he told the BBC.
Hosie also dismissed claims that there’s a “Tuesday club” of male SNP MPs who play football, eat curry, and drink beers together which plotted Blackford’s downfall.
“A group of colleagues play football and all of a sudden there’s a plot,” he said. “I think we should get on with the serious work of discussing serious work and serious policies rather than gossipy nonsense.”