MP Kenny MacAskill quits SNP to join Alex Salmond's Alba Party

27 March 2021, 17:20 | Updated: 27 March 2021, 21:47

Kenny MacAskill has quit the SNP
Kenny MacAskill has quit the SNP. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Former Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has quit the SNP to join Alex Salmond’s newly-formed Alba Party.

Alex Salmond launched his latest political project on Friday as a means to create a "supermajority" of pro-independence supporters in Holyrood.

Mr MacAskill is the first big SNP name to defect to the party, although former SNP councillor Chris McEleny is standing as a candidate for the Alba Party in the upcoming Scottish Parliament elections.

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The National reports that the East Lothian MP wrote to his staff: "I will be joining the newly-formed Alba Party to deliver than supermajority for independence through the list vote and which I believe's essential to achieving our nation's independence."

The SNP has called for a by-election in response, and described Mr MacAskill's departure as "somewhat of a relief".

Mr MacAskill pictured with Nicola Sturgeon in 2014
Mr MacAskill pictured with Nicola Sturgeon in 2014. Picture: PA

The party's Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: "After yesterday's events this is the second least surprising news in Scottish politics.

"He has been an increasing embarrassment to many in the SNP and his departure is somewhat of a relief.

"That he is joining a party with serious questions to answer about its leader's suitability for public office is no surprise.

"He should now resign his seat in the House of Commons to let a by-election take place immediately so the people of East Lothian can elect a new MP who will focus on their interests, rather than self-interest."

Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael added: "Kenny Macaskill wants to go from being the SNP MP for East Lothian, to the Alba party MSP for Lothians. I will be interested to see how he pursues this role from his home in Banffshire."