ANGUS Robertson is to stand down as depute leader of the SNP with immediate effect, having held the position since 2016.

In his resignation letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Robertson said he wanted to focus on pursuing new career opportunities.

The former MP, who lost his seat in Moray at the last General Election, said he felt he was no longer able to fully discharge his mandate of partnering Sturgeon as Westminster SNP leader and representing a rural constituency.

In his letter, Robertson wrote: "I have been tremendously honoured to be your deputy since 2016 and have always valued your friendship, professional and personal support, and your inclusive leadership of the SNP and Scottish Government.

"It has been a fantastic time to be involved in public service for 17 years, representing the community I live in and moving our country ever closer to independence.

"To help the SNP become the party of government in Scotland has been a perosnal high point and I am exceptionally proud of all that our government has achieved.

"If I can be of any help in supporting Scotland's progress and the progress of every person who lives here, I remain as committed as ever to our party and the cause we both signed up to as teenagers."

The First Minister paid tribute to Robertson at a meeting of the SNP's National Executive Committee in Glasgow, and said he could be "very proud" of the part he had played in the party's successes.

Responding to his letter, Sturgeon said: "I would like to place on record my immense gratitude for the job you have performed in that role and, previously, as our Westminster leader.

"You have always been a source of wise counsel and I, likewise, have valued your friendship and support in the work we have taken forward together.

"Our political and electoral success over the last decade has been nothing short of extraordinary – and the party owes you an enormous debt of gratitude for the personal role you played in bringing about that success.

"That includes your part in the 2014 referendum which brought the country closer to independence than ever before.

"I hope that we may see you return to front-line politics in future."

The arrangements for electing a new depute leader will be arranged "in due course", the party said.

Robertson intends to maintain his position as an advisory board member of the Scottish Policy Foundation, and to work in business, communication and public diplomacy consultation.