JOANNA Cherry has ruled herself out from standing for the post of SNP deputy leader at Westminster.

The MP for Edinburgh South West, who is the party’s shadow justice and home affairs secretary, told The National she would not be putting herself forward for the role.

“I won’t be standing for deputy leader of Westminster group,” she said.

Kirsty Blackman last week has announced she will be resigning as Ian Blackford’s second in command to concentrate on her family and constituency work – after openly speaking about the effect of the lockdown on her mental health.

The party’s MP for East Renfrewshire, Kirsten Oswald, who is also the SNP’s business convener, declared on Friday she is hoping to take on the vacant position.

Writing on Twitter, Oswald said following Blackman’s decision to step down “and having spoken to a number of colleagues over the past 24 hours”, she is seeking to become the depute leader of the party at Westminster.

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She added: “Kirsty Blackman may have small feet but she has left big shoes to fill.”

SNP MPs including Drew Hendry and Stewart McDonald have declared their support for Oswald.

Fellow MP Angus MacNeil said it was good Oswald had put her name forward but he hoped others would follow so the party could have a contest that would allow for “a quality debate on direction and ideas.”

Oswald was first elected to Westminster in 2015 before losing her seat to Tory candidate Paul Masterton in 2017. But at last year’s poll, Oswald won her seat back – with a larger majority than her 2015 victory.

A decision on the replacement is likely to be made by the party this week. No other candidate is yet to publicly declare they are seeking to take on the position.

It is thought Blackman will be replaced by a woman to continue the SNP’s gender balance commitment in its leadership teams.

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Blackman, who has held the post of deputy Westminster leader or three years, said that “like many others, I’ve struggled with the impact that lockdown has had on my mental health”. The Aberdeen North MP added: “I strongly believe that people must be able to talk openly about mental health issues, which affect so many of us.”

Nicola Sturgeon praised Blackman for speaking openly about her mental health.

The First Minister said: “I would pay tribute to her – she’s a fantastic, talented politician but I think it’s really good that politicians do speak out about the trials and tribulations that we all have.”

Cherry is the latest MP to rule herself out. MP Anne McLaughlin, who was thought to be considering standing, has decided not to put her hat into the ring. Philippa Whiteford told The National she was ‘minded not to stand’.

Nominations opened for the post last week and will close on Tuesday.