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Daily Record
Daily Record
Paul Hutcheon

Stephen Flynn elected SNP's new Westminster leader following Ian Blackford's resignation

Nicola Sturgeon has suffered a blow to her authority after a key ally failed to become the new SNP leader at Westminster. Alison Thewliss lost to Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn in the race to succeed Ian Blackford. Mhairi Black was elected deputy leader.

Flynn said: “Under my leadership, SNP MPs will be relentlessly focused on standing up for Scotland's interests and our democratic right to decide our future in an independence referendum. Families across Scotland are paying a devastating price under Westminster control, with Brexit, austerity cuts and the Tory cost of living crisis hammering household budgets.

"SNP MPs will work harder than ever to hold the Tory government to account - and make the case that independence is the essential route to safety, fairness and prosperity for Scotland."

Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn is the SNP's new Westminster leader (Daily Record)

Flynn was last month weighing up a challenge to Blackford, but he ruled himself out in a post on social media. He u-turned after Blackford, who had been in post for five years, announced he was standing down.

Flynn’s supporters believe he will be keen to stress his autonomy from the First Minister when required and act as a strong voice on independence. He has also championed the oil and gas industry, which the SNP/Green Government has gone cool on this year. Thewliss, who represents Glasgow Central, was viewed as Sturgeon’s preferred candidate as the pair have been close for years.

Flynn was announced the winner at the group's AGM. He won by 26 votes to 17. One of Flynn’s supporters said his leadership would provide a “reset” after a period of “drift” at Westminster. Another backer said Flynn had “energy and drive” and would reboot a flagging SNP team in London.

Black said: "I'm delighted to have been elected as SNP Westminster Deputy Leader and look forward to working closely with Stephen Flynn and MP's across the parliamentary party as we stand up for Scotland and make the case for independence.

"Westminster is failing Scotland. With the Tories and Labour Party both wedded to Brexit, austerity cuts and democracy denial, it's clearer than ever that independence is the only way to escape the damage of Westminster control and get Scotland back on the path to prosperity."

Labour MP Ian Murray said: “The fact is that this is nothing more than shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic. Across Britain and increasingly in Scotland, people are turning to Labour.

“There is no majority for the SNP’s kamikaze de-facto referendum but there is also no majority for the status quo. Across Britain there is a majority for change - and Labour will deliver that change.”

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy said: “Stephen Flynn’s victory over Nicola Sturgeon’s candidate is a personal humiliation for the First Minister and lays bare the deep splits within the SNP. Mr Flynn was the MP who brought down Ian Blackford, in open defiance of the First Minister who inexplicably stood by Mr Blackford despite his shameful mishandling of the Patrick Grady scandal.

“Now, having persuaded Alison Thewliss to stand as the ‘stop-Flynn’ candidate, Nicola Sturgeon has been overruled again by her rebellious Westminster MPs. It’s clear that the First Minister’s once-iron grip on her party is slipping.

"This result is sure to lead to increased tensions between the SNP leaders at Westminster and Holyrood, not least over oil and gas policy, where Mr Flynn – a serial flip-flopper on this issue – is, for the moment, at odds with Ms Sturgeon.”

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