THE SNP’s Pete Wishart is the latest politician to confirm he is considering standing to succeed Angus Roberton as party depute leader.

In an article in today’s National the MP for Perth and North Perthshire called for the party to analyse the reasons why it lost 21 seats at the snap election in June last year and to update its strategy to achieve Scottish independence.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE: We need a new vision for independence – with a gradual rejoining of the EU

He also said that the party needed to come up with a political position which united Yes Remainers and Yes Leavers after it emerged around a third of SNP voters backed leaving the EU in the 2016 referendum.

Wishart believed the adoption of an independent Scotland of a “graduated” approach to regain EU membership by way of joining the European Economic Area as a first step may be a way of uniting these two sets of SNP voters.

“We need to talk. And as a party this depute leadership contest should allow us the ideal opportunity to facilitate that debate. We need the widest possible conversation in the party at this important juncture for the SNP, and we need to ensure that it is inclusive and wide ranging,” he said.

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“The most obvious issue that requires our attention is the question of a second independence referendum. We need to start to design a roadmap to secure a successful outcome with an honest assessment of the difficulties that have still to be confronted.”

He said: “We also have to unite the Yes movement and span the differing views about the European Union.

“On the EU there is no point chastising leave SNP voters by simply extolling the virtues of an EU they feel alienated from. We have to construct a way forward that can enlist them and with which they can feel comfortable with... I would suggest a graduated approach for an independent Scotland rejoining the European Union with a series of steps and breaks where we can properly consider our progress.

“These steps would be EEA, then EFTA then full EU membership. The last and most important step of rejoining the EU should only be taken with, at the very least, the full consent of an independent Scottish Parliament with a majority of members who have been elected on a platform of rejoining the European Union. This approach, I believe, would bring back many EU leave voters that we have lost over the past year. “

Wishart, who is a former member of the bands Runrig and Big Country, is the chair of Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee. He has been an MP since 2001 and is currently shadow leader of the house. In that senior role he is responsible for working with the Leader of the House in arranging Commons business and holding the Government to account in its overall management of the House of Commons.

Meantime, former minister Alex Neil, has also ruled himself out of the contest.

Neil told The National he believed the position should go to an MP to help ensure good co-ordination between the team at Westminster and the Holyrood team.

“There’s no way at all I’ll be standing. No way at all,” he said.

He added that the priorities for the new depute role would be policy development and organisational development.

“I think the party made a mistake in abolishing the policy vice-convener role about ten years ago.

“We need to do much more policy work as a party in order to maintain our momentum.

“It is a role I think we should bring back, but in the meantime, I think the new depute leader should concentrate on policy development and organisational development.”

The timetable for the contest is expected to be set out early next month with the new depute unveiled as the SNP conference in Aberdeen in June.

To date James Dornan, the Glasgow Cathcart MSP, is the only politician to have declared his intention to stand. Ian Blackford, the party’s Westminster leader, is thought to be considering putting his name forward as are fellow MPs Philippa Whitford, Joanna Cherry, Kirsty Blackman and Tommy Sheppard.

Ivan McKee, the Glasgow Provan MSP and a former businessman, is another figure being discussed in SNP circles as a possible candidate.