SNP MP Joanna Cherry has hit back at smear campaigns against her, calling for unity behind the independence cause and an end to party infighting.

Following a turbulent period during which the Edinburgh South West MP was subjected to death threats over her stance towards misogynistic abuse on Twitter and allegations of bullying from former staff members, Cherry hit back at “attempts to smear my reputation”, adding that “it hurts” that “they may have come from within my own party”.

Speaking to the Sunday National, Cherry made the point that the country was “at a crossroads on its constitutional journey”.

“The prize of independence in Europe is within our grasp, so it’s vital that we unite and don’t dissipate our energies,” she said, before adding that “recent events have shown that if people take their eye off the ball bad mistakes can happen”.

Cherry was defiant in the face of what she described as attempts to undermine her.

She said: “I am confident I will survive the attempts to smear my reputation. I won’t lie when I say it hurts that they may have come from within my own party.

“The problem we have is that from the moment the first parliamentarian complained against was hung out to dry a signal was given to those with petty motivations that if you seek to smear an SNP parliamentarian the party won’t get behind them, even if they are subsequently exonerated.”

Cherry faced online abuse after she suggested Twitter failed to protect women from misogynistic attacks.

She was also criticised by trans rights campaigners after she replied to a post criticising a trans activist which critics say misgendered the activist as “him”.

The abuse was so bad Cherry was given police protection.

The MP also criticised a story in the Herald On Sunday which quoted leading SNP figures Angus Robertson, MP Stewart McDonald and MEP Alyn Smith as supporting what the newspaper described as a “War on Cybernats”.

“Equally, it’s important that our elected representatives are not drawn into trashing our members and supporters who work so hard for the cause,” Cherry said.

“The so-called ‘War on Cybernats’ last weekend was unnecessary and has really upset our core support.

“The small minority of independence supporters who behave badly on social media are not the responsibility of the SNP.

“They are part of the wider problem of social media abuse which all politicians should call out. I am all about reaching beyond our core support and I have demonstrated my ability to do so by holding on to an atypical SNP seat at the 2017 General Election in the face of a strong Tory challenge.

“I have also made positive proposals about reaching out beyond party politics through a Citizens’ Assembly and I was delighted when the First Minister and SNP conference delegates took this on-board as party policy.”

Cherry told the Sunday National of her surprise when she received no messages of support from SNP leadership after being subject to abuse.

“Ultimately, the strength of the party is its members. I am grateful to all those people who have contacted me with their support in recent days and I know those members want to see their dues being used to help our cause and to robustly defend and support our team,” she said.

“I was surprised when no one from the SNP leadership contacted me to enquire after my well-being. They still haven’t and I am afraid that if such a lack of support for parliamentarians within the party is allowed to continue it will dissuade people from entering politics.”

The SNP Justice and Home Affairs spokesperson then urged colleagues to deal with party grievances via the appropriate channels and not through the press or the social media arena.

She said: “The SNP has been blessed to have strong leaders back to back but the party is not about personalities – it’s about everyone who is a member, and people need to conduct debate and settle their differences in a civilised fashion.

“It is not for SNP employees paid for by the party or parliamentary staff paid for by the public purse to take to Twitter to air their grievances or to go to the newspapers. They should use proper procedures and behave in a professional fashion.”

Cherry said that the inevitability of an independence referendum meant that “unity and civility” were more vital than ever to ensuring a Yes vote the second time round.

“The timetable for an independence referendum has been announced, our restiveness is at an end,” she said.

“We can move forward with unity and civility to each and others and those we wish to persuade and we will win.”