SNP ‘made wrong decision’ barring MPs from standing unless they resign, says ex-leader

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Current sitting MP Joanna Cherry had previously said she wanted to stand in the Edinburgh Central seat in next May’s Scottish Parliament election along with former SNP Westminster Group Leader Angus Robertson. But Express.co.uk has learnt the SNP’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) approved a new requirement for sitting MPs wishing to stand for Holyrood to secure at least £10,000 of funding towards the subsequent by-election campaign.

But Express.co.uk has learnt the SNP’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) approved a new requirement for sitting MPs wishing to stand for Holyrood to secure at least £10,000 of funding towards the subsequent by-election campaign.

This is alongside the requirement any MP who wants to stand for Holyrood will have to resign their seat before the Scottish election.

Ms Cherry said that would make it “impossible” for there to be a “fair and open contest” to select a candidate for the constituency and pulled out.

SNP branch members in Edinburgh Central will choose the party’s candidate for the seat – currently held by former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson by a 610 majority.

 


 

She is stepping down from Holyrood next year to join the House of Lords and the seat is a key target for Nicola Sturgeon’s party as it bids to win a record fourth term in power at Holyrood.

Angus Robertson, former SNP depute leader and the party’s Westminster leader until 2018, told Express.co.uk: “Edinburgh Central SNP members have been let down with some feeling their choices being restricted.

“The SNP NEC has made the wrong decision and must ensure the widest and fairest contest.

“We need the best candidate to win the nomination without any interference.

“As former SNP depute leader and business convener of the party, it disappoints me that we are distracted from delivering independence.

“We have to unite and ensure we have the broadest and strongest team standing for the Scottish Parliament. Together we will win.”

With politicians such as Alex Salmond having previously served as both an MP and an MSP, Ms Cherry added: “It is unprecedented in our party’s history of dual mandates to demand that a parliamentarian make themselves and their constituency staff unemployed in order to be eligible to be a candidate.

“It is particularly unreasonable to demand this in the middle of a pandemic.

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“I am not prepared to do it and so unless circumstances change, I won’t be seeking nomination for Holyrood in this election.”

Former government minister Marco Biagi has also announced he plans to seek the nomination for Edinburgh Central, a seat that he held between 2011 and 2016.

The SNP politician stood down from Holyrood for health reasons, but said he has been persuaded to stand again.

Announcing his decision, Mr Biagi tweeted: “Edinburgh Central SNP needs a candidate who can bring members together; one who knows the constituency and its issues inside-out.”

In response, SNP spokesman told Express.co.uk: “The NEC backed an approach that will guarantee constituents a full-time commitment from day one, and minimise the disruption to voters.”

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