SNP Westminster chief Ian Blackford has won a victory in his battle with state owned RBS, after bank bosses promised a reprieve for 10 closure-threatened branches in rural communities.

Branches in Biggar, Beauly, Castlebay on Barra, Comrie, Douglas in South Lanarkshire, Gretna, Inveraray, Melrose, Kyle of Lochalsh and Tongue will remain open until the end of 2018.

RBS have promised to instruct an independent company to carry out a review into the long-term future.

If that study finds greater usage of a branch, its future will be subject to a further review.

Up to 52 other branches across Scotland still face the threat of closure.

Blackford, who had been in talks with the state-owned bank, and who, with little success, has long called for the Tory government to do something to help avert those branch closures, said the reprieve was the result of a “concentrated campaign” by his party.

“This is very welcome news - following a concentrated campaign by the SNP to keep these banks open.

“While this will come as relief to the communities who can continue to use their branches, RBS have failed to perform a complete u-turn and the SNP will continue to campaign for the remaining branches, which we have been told will still close.”

Blackford had repeatedly used his slot at Prime Minister’s Question to ask Theresa May to intervene on the matter. Yesterday, he accused the Tories of “letting Scotland down by failing to lift a finger to save these vital local banks from closure - leaving many communities with the damaging prospect of losing their last bank in town”.

Tory MP John Lamont criticised Blackford, tweeting: “Astonishing reaction from @IanBlackfordMP and @theSNP . Have they actually read what @RBS have announced? They are doing laps of honour despite dozens of branches being shut across Scotland. How many ‘saved’ branches will still be open this time next year?”

SNP MSP, Michael Russell replied: “The reality is that a Tory PM refused to lift a finger despite vast sums spent bailing out @RBS. @IanBlackfordMP working with communities has achieved something for places such as #Inveraray in my constituency - progress which is now being sneered at by Tories like [John Lamont]."

Jane Howard, managing director for personal banking, said RBS had now reconsidered their original justification for closing the banks.

“Having listened to the concerns of customers, communities and elected representatives from all political parties, we have decided to keep 10 branches open until the end of 2018.

“During this period we will monitor the level of transactions and new income at each branch, and if there is a sustained and viable increase in both then we will reconsider the closure of the relevant branch as part of a full independent review.”

In addition to keeping 10 branches open, RBS has said it will look to open new branches, improve the availability of ATMs in areas where there are closures and review the opening hours of its remaining branches.

Leaders of the Unite trade union branded the announcement a “stay of execution”.

Unite deputy Scottish secretary Mary Alexander said: “What are the bank prepared to do about the other 52 communities facing the axe?”