CANDIDATES for the role of SNP depute leader are not likely to put themselves forward for several weeks, but behind the scenes possible contenders will be assessing what level of support they would gather in the contest and what their message would be to party members and the wider public.

The race is open to politicians in Holyrood, Westminster, Brussels as well as local councils, and even to party members who hold no elected position. However, as party leader Nicola Sturgeon holds the position of First Minster in Edinburgh, there will be an argument Angus Robertson’s successor should hold a prominent role in Westminster to maximise the opportunities to hold the UK Government to account and quiz Theresa May at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Ian Blackford, the party’s Westminster leader, is likely to be mulling over whether to throw his hat into the ring.

The former SNP treasurer was elected the party’s Westminster leader in June following a ballot by the party’s MPs a week after the snap General Election in which Robertson lost his Moray seat.

The MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber did not stand in the 2016 depute leadership race and, like the majority of the party’s MPs, supported Robertson. Blackford’s colleague Edinburgh East MP Tommy Sheppard will also no doubt be considering whether to stand.

Sheppard, who was runner up to Robertson two years ago, focused his campaign on internal SNP policy making, with the intention of making decision making more open to the SNP party membership. He also campaigned for the party to set up a network of paid regional organisers.

He is on the left of the party and has spoken of the need to ensure the SNP continues to keep the support it gathered in urban areas and the central belt during the independence referendum and see off any potential threat from a Jeremy Corbyn- led Labour party in the event of another snap election. He entered the contest for Westminster leader, but later withdrew saying he did not have enough support in the group.

Edinburgh South West MP Joanna Cherry may also be a contender for the post. The QC has a high public profile as the party’s justice spokeswoman at Westminster. Like Blackford and Sheppard she was first elected to the Commons in 2015. Cherry did not run in the following year’s depute leadership race, but did stand for the post of Westminster leader in June.

Candidates could come from outside the Westminster SNP group. Derek Mackay, the finance secretary, may run after securing a budget deal with the Scottish Greens. Chris McEleny, the SNP group leader at Inverclyde Council, who increased his profile when he stood in 2016 (though came last) may also stand.