Blackford rules himself out of SNP depute contest

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The SNP's Westminster leader has ruled himself out of the party's depute leadership race.

Ian Blackford said he wanted to concentrate on his role leading the MP group and representing his Ross, Skye and Lochaber constituency.

He was widely expected to put himself forward to succeed Angus Robertson, who was Westminster leader until his election defeat in June, and stood down as depute earlier this month.

Mr Blackford told the Press and Journal newspaper: "I am very much enjoying leading the group and I think there is an immense task over the coming period getting through the morass of Brexit.

"I take seriously the responsibilities I've got as leader in Westminster and supporting the government in Holyrood.

"If I was depute leader as well, something would have to give. I think it is maybe simply too much to ask."

He later tweeted: "I have chosen not to allow my name to go forward for nomination for SNP depute leader to concentrate on my role as a Highland MP and SNP Westminster leader.

"I look forward to working with the new depute leader."

James Dornan, the MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, is the only candidate for depute to have declared so far.

Mr Robertson's successor is expected to be announced at the party's conference in Aberdeen in June.