PETE Wishart has ruled himself out of standing to be the next depute leader of the SNP, hinting that party members had not responded positively to his call for a "pragmatic" approach to a second independence referendum.

The Perthshire MP was one of the favourites to take over from Angus Robertson. Just last week he had written in this paper about how he was strongly considering a bid to be Nicola Sturgeon’s number two.

But in a statement released on social media, Wishart said he made the decision after taking “soundings from colleagues within the party and across the membership”.

“After listening very carefully to the response to my agenda I have decided that I do not believe that I have sufficient support within the party and I will not now be standing for the post of Depute Leader of the Scottish National Party,“ he said.

That agenda included proposals to "design a new independence offering that takes into account the political environment that Scotland now inhabits" and for the SNP to be "pragmatic in its approach to the timing of a further independence referendum".

The next vote, he said, should happen "at the optimum time for success taking into account external features such as the increasing concerns around Brexit, and to proceed only when we have sufficient evidence that it could be won."

He added: “There are certain issues I could have perhaps ducked or de-emphasised in order to better assist me in any Depute Leader contest, but anyone who knows me knows that this is not something I would be prepared to do. I will always speak out on what I believe is in the best interests of my country.”

The only two people confirmed for the contest are Glasgow MSP James Dornan, and Julie Hepburn, a party member who is well known in the ranks but doesn’t hold an elected position.

Dornan has been upfront about the timing of a second referendum, saying he believes it could happen as soon as next year.

“Circumstances are changing almost every day. It has to be at a time from the SNP viewpoint when it is of maximum benefit for us and when that will be will be close to the [Scottish] election time, maybe 2019/2020 would be my guess. Politics have never been more volatile than they have over the last few years,” he said.

Hepburn said it was time for the party to “get in training” for a possible new vote, but that the timing was ultimately up to the First Minister and her Cabinet.

“It’s important to note that whoever becomes depute leader will not be deciding unilaterally what the strategy is and when the decision will be,” she said.

The party's Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, has also ruled out standing for the job.