IAN BLACKFORD’S former LibDem rival has thrown her weight behind the SNP chief's bid for reelection.

In a blog post, Jean Davis, says she can only vote for Remainers and “for people with a strong connection to the constituency, preferably living here”.

That rules out the LibDem candidate Craig Harrow, who lives in Edinburgh

Davis writes: “I parted company with my previous Party [LibDems] for a number of reasons but one was their position on a second independence referendum.

“There has been a significant change since 2014. Much was promised to Scotland which has not yet been delivered, and Scotland is being ripped out of Europe despite a significant majority voting to stay.

“The only way to stop Brexit is to ensure a majority in Parliament other than a Tory majority. Whilst Scottish Labour have set their faces against a new referendum, I believe UK Labour will negotiate if the seats needed for Government require it.”

She added: “To Ian, I am lending you my vote on this occasion. It may be a one-off but you are the best option to stop Brexit. Despite your manifesto, it does not mean I support independence but I do think we need to have a further debate and referendum on independence especially if we do end up leaving the EU.

“To my ex-party – you really need to remember your radical roots. It’s all a bit status quo at the moment. And why you chose an outsider when you had a good candidate resident in the constituency and a traditional Highland Liberal to boot I am at a loss to understand.”

That’s understood to be a reference to Denis Rixson, standing in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey.

Davis said her “risk assessment” regarding independence has changed given Brexit.

“At least Scottish residents should be allowed the debate,” she writes.

Blackford thanked, Davis, tweeting: “Jean I am most grateful and recognise that for someone who was the LibDem candidate in this constituency last time this is an important step for you. I take my responsibilities to constituents seriously and will do my best not to let you down.”

Davis came third at the 2017 election, being knocked out of second place by the Tories, who increased their vote by 19%.

Blackford's seat is a key target for the LibDems at this election, and reports have suggested an informal pact with the Tories and Labour.

Harrow is an old friend of Charles Kennedy, the former party leader, who held the constituency between 1983 and 2015.

LibDems have long accused the SNP of running a negative and hostile campaign against Kennedy at that election. He died not long after at the age of 55 following a long battle with alcoholism.