Mark Sedwill’s replacement is ‘about revenge’ says Joanna Cherry
The Nationalist MP was dropped by Westminster leader Ian Blackford as part of a reshuffle of the party’s Commons frontbench announced yesterday. Ms Cherry, seen is a close ally of Alex Salmond, was critical of the party leadership on independence and stances on transgender issues.
Now, sources said the Edinburgh South West MP’s departure from the frontbench has caused following “significant tensions”.
One added to this publication: “The party appears to be in turmoil and at the brink of collapse over Ms Cherry’s departure, significant tensions have emerged.
“The leadership are certainly tightening their grip on power.”
Another insider accused party bosses including leader Nicola Sturgeon of making a decision which ensures that “all dissenters are to be driven out”.
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The reshuffle saw four SNP MPs join the party’s frontbench team in the Commons, with Patricia Gibson becoming spokeswoman for housing, communities and local government, while Angela Crawley takes on the role of shadow spokeswoman for the Attorney General.
Richard Thomson and Stephen Flynn, both of whom were only elected to the Commons in 2019, have also stepped up, becoming the party’s Northern Ireland spokesman and business, energy and industrial strategy spokesman, respectively.
Meanwhile, Tommy Sheppard switches to constitutional affairs, having previously been the SNP’s Cabinet Office spokesman.
The reshuffle revealed that Anne McLaughlin has now been appointed as the party’s Westminster spokeswoman on justice and immigration, a role previously held by Ms Cherry.
In a statement yesterday, Ms Cherry said: “Despite hard work, results and a strong reputation I’ve been sacked today from the SNP front bench.”
She added: “Westminster is increasingly irrelevant to Scotland’s constitutional future and the SNP would do well to radically rethink our strategy.”
The MP last night added she has contacted police over a “vicious threat” to her personal safety following the dismissal.
Express.co.uk understands the SNP had been planning the move for a while with Ms Cherry being seen by many Nationalists as a potential future leader of the SNP.
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One senior party source said the SNP MP’s sacking went down like a “bucket of cold sick within the party.”
They added: “The whole thing’s gone crazy. The last days of the bunker are taking place.”
Inverclyde Cllr Chris Eleney, an advocate of an alternative “Plan B” to independence claimed the party leadership had “lost the plot”.
Speaking last night, he stressed members had been quitting the party in protest over Ms Cherry’s resignation.
It comes after Ms Cherry successfully challenged Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans for the prorogation of Parliament in 2019.
But she was dealt a devastating blow after missing out on an opportunity to become an MSP in Summer 2020.
She has intended to stand for the Edinburgh Central seat for Holyrood.
But the QC was forced to pull out after the party introduced a rule which requires sitting SNP MPs to resign their seat if they wanted to stand to become an MSP.
In a statement, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the party had a “wealth of talent and experience”, and that the reshuffle “ensures we are in the best possible position to hold the UK Government to account during this global pandemic and the aftermath of Brexit, to support colleagues ahead of the Scottish elections, and to deliver independence”.
Mr Blackford, who didn’t mention the departure of Ms Cherry, added: “Team working and co-operation are key to ensure results and this reshuffle will give us a strong team to take us forward.
“We have an incredibly hard-working group of MPs – I thank them all for their commitment and congratulate those in new positions.
“I was pleased to welcome four MPs to the front bench; Patricia Gibson MP, Angela Crawley MP, Richard Thomson MP and Stephen Flynn MP.”
SNP MP Kenny MacAskill stood up for Ms Cherry, however, describing her removal from the front bench as “inexplicable and harmful to our cause”.
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Around 7pm on February 1 officers received a report of threatening communications having been made online.
“Enquiries are ongoing.”
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