THE SNP MP who launched a high-profile campaign against the UK Government’s controversial rape clause and two child family benefit cap has given her support to a senior activist in the party’s depute leader race.

In a boost for Julie Hepburn, Alison Thewliss, the MP for Glasgow Central, announced she was backing the former political education convener to succeed Angus Robertson.

“I’ve nominated @juliehepburnsnp for @theSNP Depute Leader. She has very clear ideas for how we can work with members to improve, organise and build as a party, and has a great deal of experience behind the scenes. #JulieForDepute,” she tweeted.

Hepburn has also received the backing of Glasgow North MSP Bob Doris and former MP Calum Kerr, as well as a number of councillors, including Mhairi Hunter, a close ally and office manager for First Minister and party leader Nicola Sturgeon.

Hepburn told The National she was delighted to get the backing of the elected representatives and believed she had a strong chance of winning the election, which is also being contested by Economy Secretary Keith Brown, Glasgow Cathcart MSP James Dornan and Inverclyde Council SNP group leader Chris McEleny.

She has previously said her pitch for the job was to take on the role to “get the party ready for a new independence referendum” and getting the grassroots more involved in campaigning strategies.

“Keith Brown is one of our best, most talented folk, but it’s also about how members see the role. If they see it as a continuation of what the role has been, well maybe Keith is the best candidate, but if you see it as something different, someone to support the membership, getting the campaign ready, then perhaps people might think it’s more suited to me,” she said. “We are not opponents – we are fellow nominees putting different pitches for the job.

“I have been taken aback at how much support I’ve received. A lot of people are giving me their support because my pitch has reflected what they have been thinking.”

Hepburn is the only candidate in the contest not to have an elected role as MSP, MP, MEP or councillor.

The 38-year-old is well known among senior figures in the SNP having been previously employed as a case worker for Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Perth MP Pete Wishart. Earlier this week The National revealed that MP Angus MacNeil is backing McEleny.

Party hustings begin later this month and will continue until mid May. It is the second attempt by Brown and McEleny to win election to the post, with the former losing out to Stewart Hosie in 2014, and the latter defeated by Robertson a year later.

Nominations for candidates close on April 13, and ballots are issued to members on May 18. The winner will be announced on June 8 at the SNP conference in Aberdeen.

Robertson was elected in 2016, and announced he was standing down last month after losing his Moray seat in last year’s snap General Election.

The dates and venues for the hustings are as follows: April 21, Central Scotland, Airdrie Town Hall; April 22, North East Scotland, Tivoli Theatre, Aberdeen; April 28, Mid Scotland and Fife, Perth Theatre; April 29, Highlands and Islands, Mercure Hotel, Inverness; May 5, Glasgow, Mitchell Library, May 6, Lothian, The Hub, Edinburgh; May 12, West Scotland, Johnstone Town Hall and May 13, South Scotland, Easterbrook Hall, Dumfries.