JOANNA Cherry has promised that she will stand down as an MP if elected to Holyrood as the next MSP for Edinburgh Central. But Angus Robertson, her rival in the race to become the SNP’s candidate for the marginal seat, has warned locals that his former Westminster colleague simply can’t be a “full-time candidate”.

Yesterday, the party’s former leader at Westminster – who lost his Moray seat in 2017 – tweeted: “Given that Edinburgh Central is a marginal seat @theSNP will need a full-time candidate and a full-time MSP.”

While Cherry made clear she will stand down from the House of Commons if elected, she would presumably remain as an MP until the vote in May 2021.

The selection process, which could last another three months, looks set to be a tense one for the local party.

READ MORE: Cherry to step down as MP if she wins Central Edinburgh seat

One local party source, who asked not to be named, was exasperated with both potential candidates, saying: “Why couldn’t one of them have gone to Stirling or Edinburgh Western or literally anywhere else? Why do we have to wash our laundry so publicly? This is going to be grim.”

Meanwhile, one pro-Robertson SNP insider told The Sun the contest was “a battle for the soul of the movement and party” .

In a statement released yesterday, Cherry said she was standing after consulting with party members who, like her, live in the constituency.

She said she wanted to offer her services “where I think they can be of most use”.

The National: Joanna Cherry's rival in Edinburgh Central Angus RobertsonJoanna Cherry's rival in Edinburgh Central Angus Robertson

Cherry said: “Edinburgh Central is my home branch, I have been a member there since 2008. I have lived in the constituency since 2002 and since 2015 I have been the MP for Edinburgh South West which covers a significant part of the Central seat including Gorgie, Dalry, Haymarket, Fountainbridge and part of Tollcross/Bruntsfield.

“I am very grateful to all the people who have approached me and encouraged me to put my hat in the ring when nominations open.

“Scotland must have the right to escape Boris Johnson’s Brexit; we must have the right to choose our own future and we need a strategy to get us to that point of decision.

“With a large Tory majority across England, the UK is set firmly on a hard Tory agenda for the next decade. Scotland will be completely ignored at Westminster, the movement for Scotland to be an independent European nation can only be realised from Holyrood and I want to offer my services where I think they can be of most use.

“I look forward to a forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence, SNP MPs at Westminster have never been there to settle down; I am for settling up. I choose Scotland and hope to be able to play my part as we create a modern independent state."

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While Robertson already has the support of a significant number of big hitters, including Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, Cherry is hugely popular with the members who will ultimately be responsible for picking the candidate.

It’s understood formal nominations will open in April, and members are likely to vote in May or June on the candidate.

Though there is a slim prospect of a vote sooner rather than later with Ruth Davidson – who won the seat in 2017 with a majority of just 610 – reportedly set to be appointed to the Lords.

If ennobled she will almost certainly come under pressure to step down as an MSP.