Neale Hanvey becomes second SNP MP to defect to Alex Salmond’s Alba Party

28 March 2021, 18:27 | Updated: 29 March 2021, 08:02

Neale Hanvey has defected to Alex Salmond's new Alba Party
Neale Hanvey has defected to Alex Salmond's new Alba Party. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

A second SNP MP has defected to Alex Salmond’s Alba Party, prompting further calls for by-elections.

Neale Hanvey follows Kenny MacAskill in joining the newly formed party.

Mr Salmond announced on Friday he would be standing as a candidate in May's Scottish Parliament election as part of plans to gain a "supermajority" for independence supporters.

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

READ MORE: Sturgeon: There are ‘significant questions’ over Salmond’s political comeback

Mr Hanvey, MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, said: "The people of Scotland will always be my priority and it's therefore a very real honour to be standing for Alba and an independence supermajority."

He was previously suspended by the SNP for using anti-Semitic language on social media.

He apologised for any offence caused in the days following his suspension.

Mr Hanvey also lost his role as SNP vaccine spokesman in February after posting a message on a crowdfunder page raising money to bring a defamation action against Aberdeen North MP Kirsty Blackman and others.

Scottish Labour campaign co-chair Neil Bibby said: "The defection of the controversial Neale Hanvey to the Alba Party reveals the utter disarray that the SNP is in.

"Scotland deserves so much better than this politics of grudge, personality and ego.

"Neale Hanvey and Kenny MacAskill must both stand down and give their constituents the chance to elect politicians more interested in guaranteeing Scotland's recovery than endlessly refighting yesterday's war."

Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign chair Alistair Carmichael MP said: "Like paint chipping off an old and decaying wall, Neale Hanvey's defection is the latest episode in the nationalists' bitter, twisted and divided civil war."

Former justice secretary Mr MacAskill, who represents East Lothian, has said he will not be standing down to allow a by-election.

Meanwhile, North Lanarkshire councillor Lynne Anderson has also defected from the SNP to Alba.