SNP elects Stephen Flynn as Westminster leader beating Sturgeon's pick

SNP elects Stephen Flynn as Westminster leader: MP sees off Alison Thewliss for the party’s top job and will face Rishi Sunak at PMQs TOMORROW

  • Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn elected as SNP Westminster leader at AGM
  • Mr Flynn will face Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at PMQs debut on Wednesday 
  • Deputy will be Mhairi Black, Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP

Stephen Flynn has been elected as the new leader of the SNP at Westminster, replacing the outgoing Ian Blackford.

The Aberdeen South MP – who was first elected in 2019 – defeated Glasgow Central MP Alison Thewliss for the top job at the party’s AGM. 

He will make his PMQs debut against Rishi Sunak on Wednesday at midday.  

Mr Flynn’s deputy will be Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP Mhairi Black – who takes over from Kirsten Oswald.

Stephen Flynn, who was first elected in 2019, replaces Ian Blackford as Westminster leader for the SNP

The contest was triggered by Mr Blackford’s resignation last week. The former leader will become the SNP’s ambassador to business

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon described the pair as a ‘formidable team’.

The contest was triggered by Mr Blackford’s resignation last week.  The former leader will become the SNP’s ambassador to business.

The party’s business, energy and industrial strategy spokesman defeated Ms Thewliss by 26 to 17 in the vote by party MPs. 

He had been the only candidate expected to stand but Ms Thewliss threw her hat in the ring for the top job after reports suggested Mr Flynn would replace much of the SNP’s front bench. 

It has also been suggested that he might return controversial MP Joanna Cherry, who is an outspoken critic of Nicola Sturgeon, to a more prominent role on the frontbenches.  

Speaking after the announcement of his win on Tuesday, Mr Flynn said he was honoured to be elected and that he would be ‘relentlessly focused’ on getting a second independence referendum. 

‘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,’ Mr Flynn said. 

‘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.’

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, failed to get the number of votes needed at the party’s AGM to beat Mr Flynn despite reportedly being First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s favoured candidate

Mhairi Black, who became an MP in 2015 at the age of 21, becomes Deputy SNP Westminster leader

The new leader also paid tribute to Ms Thewliss, her deputy choice Stuart McDonald and the outgoing leadership.

Ms Black said she was ‘delighted to have been elected’, adding: ‘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.’

Mr Flynn’s ascendancy to the top job comes in the weeks after reports of a coup attempt against Mr Blackford, which were eventually quashed by the Aberdeen South MP tweeting that he was not seeking the position.

Elected in 2019, the former Aberdeen City councillor succeeded Ross Thomson in the Aberdeen South seat after he declined to stand again for parliament.

SNP politicians congratulated Mr Flynn on the result of the contest and said they looked forward to ‘working to deliver independence’

Taking to Twitter in the minutes after the result was announced, the First Minister said: ‘Congratulations to new @theSNP Westminster leader @StephenFlynnSNP and deputy leader @MhairiBlack – a truly formidable team.

‘Looking forward to working with them both.’

While defeated leadership candidate Ms Thewliss congratulated the new leadership team, saying: ‘Congratulations to @StephenFlynnSNP and @MhairiBlack, and my thanks to all who have been so lovely and supportive – especially my running mate @Stuart-McDonald.’

Both the Scottish Tories and Scottish Lib Dems said Mr Flynn’s victory over Ms Thewliss – reportedly the preferred candidate of the First Minister – showed that the SNP leader was losing sway in the party.

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