JOANNA Cherry’s supporters reacted with anger to news that the SNP’s governing body was considering plans to change the party’s selection rules to make it harder for MPs to stand for Holyrood elections.

The QC hopes to become the SNP candidate in Edinburgh Central for next year’s Holyrood election.

She faces a battle to be selected, with former Westminster leader Angus Robertson, also keen to be the SNP candidate. The contest is seen as something of a proxy battle between factions in the SNP. Robertson is seen as closer to Nicola Sturgeon, while Cherry is seen as closer to former First Minister Alex Salmond.

The NEC was last night discussing a number of issues related to next May’s election, including when to start selecting candidates.

Initially, the party had hoped to have all their prospective MSPs in place by September 18,

It’s likely the pandemic will push that back by some weeks.

The body was also looking at how to improve the party’s female and BAME representation.

There was anger last December when the SNP’s slate for the General Election was all white, and two-thirds male.

While it’s relatively straightforward to introduce all-women-shortlists, it’s thought to be trickier legally to create all-BAME lists.

But the most controversial issue being discussed was on the issue of dual mandates.

One set of proposals being considered last night would force MPs to resign their seats if they were selected for Holyrood, creating a by-election to be held on the same day as the Scottish election.

Another would see MPs asked to “secure at least £10,000 worth of funding for the subsequent by-election, so that branches in constituencies do not have to fund two election campaigns at once”.

That angered Cherry’s supporters. Party member, Simon Ritchie tweeted: “The leaked SNP NEC plan to charge candidates £10,000 for standing as a candidate when they hold a seat in a different Parliament is purely to stop Joanna Cherry. That’s why it’s being considered now. It’s so transparent as to be absurd.”

Solicitor and SNP supporter Mike Dailly tweeted: “Selecting any prospective party candidate for the Scottish Parliament should be made by local party members on the basis of who they believe is best to represent them. All other considerations are irrelevant. Nor should barriers be put in the way of MPs seeking the office of MSP.”

In a series of Tweets, the SNP’s former deputy leader at Westminister, Kirsty Blackman, said she believed it restrictions were not a good idea.

She said: “If a sitting MP decides to stand as an MSP, I do understand that there are significant funding issues because that individual is causing a by-election.

“There are also local organisational issues with running one campaign immediately after another.

“My big concern about asking an MP to stand down much in advance of a Holyrood election is that this will have knock on implications for their staff.

“Asking SNP MPs to do this effectively means that only MPs who are happy to see their staff jobless will be able to stand for Holyrood.

“This is because their MP staff would no longer have a job either for the interim period or if the MP doesn’t get elected as an MSP.

“I hope the NEC considers this when taking any decision about MPs standing for Holyrood selection.”

Blackman, who had previously been tipped as a potential candidate for Aberdeen Donside, said she had no intention of standing next year.

Standalone by-elections can be extremely expensive. The SNP spent £99,000 on last year’s Holyrood by-election in Shetland.