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14 June 2017

Ian Blackford elected SNP Westminster leader

His deputy group leader will be Kirsty Blackman.

By Julia Rampen

Ian Blackford has been elected SNP Wesminster leader after Angus Robertson lost his seat.

Blackford saw off competition from Joanna Cherry and Drew Hendry. His deputy group leader will be Kirsty Blackman.

The MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber said he would work to ensure Scotland has a voice in Brexit negotiations, attempt to keep access to the single market and customs union, and prevent austerity. 

He added: “The hung parliament means that SNP MPs will have more influence than ever before, and with crucial Brexit negotiations on the horizon it has never been more important to make Scotland’s voice heard.”

Blackford, a former investment banker, and onetime nemesis of Alex Salmond, is among the moderates on independence, and on the liberal side of the party economically

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As SNP pensions spokesman, he nevertheless joined forces with the more left-wing Mhairi Black to take up the case of the “Waspi women”, who were affected by the delay to the state pension age.

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The SNP, which won a surprise 56 seats in the 2015 election, became known as the “unofficial opposition” after Brexit, because of the strong stance it took on Europe. 

However, the party lost 21 in the 2017 snap election, including two heavyweights – Alex Salmond, the former First Minister, and Robertson, the Westminster leader. 

Blackford’s new role as leader of the Westminster SNP group is likely to keep him busy, on top of his work as an unpaid director of an investment advice firm, First Seer, his chairmanship of Commsworld and the Golden Charter Trust, and running his croft.