Joanna Cherry, a prominent SNP MP, has been sacked from the party’s front bench in Westminster.
Ms Cherry was a friend and ally of previous party leader, Alex Salmond, and had been widely tipped as a future SNP leadership challenger to Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
The Scottish MP tweeted that “despite hard work, results & a strong reputation”, she had been sacked.
Despite hard work, results & a strong reputation I’ve been sacked today from @theSNP front bench. My constituents & fellow party members who gave me a resounding mandate in recent NEC elections should rest assured that I will continue to work hard for them.
— Joanna Cherry QC (@joannaccherry) February 1, 2021
The SNP said it had made a number of changes to its Westminster team ahead of the upcoming Holyrood elections. Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader in Westminster, announced the reshuffle and revealed that Anne McLaughlin has now been appointed as the party’s Westminster spokeswoman on justice and immigration.
Mr Blackford stated: “We have a wealth of talent and experience and this reshuffle of SNP MPs 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.”
No official reason has been provided for Ms Cherry’s dismissal by the party, causing speculation that it was due to a previous transgender rights row or because she is viewed as a leadership threat to Ms Sturgeon.
The ongoing row within the party concerns the issue of gender recognition, which would make it easier for people to legally change their gender identity.
Joanna Cherry had been a high-profile critic of the planned reform. She has previously stated that she is “not remotely transphobic” and supports the rights of trans people.
Last week Nicola Sturgeon said she would tackle transphobia within the SNP if it exists, stating that she takes on “bigotry” whenever she encounters it.
An SNP parliamentarian stated: “It’s been well known that Jo and Nicola have not been getting on well for a long time,” adding: “There is no way this would have happened without Nicola Sturgeon. Not a chance.”