JOANNA Cherry has said she will not now stand to be an MSP after the party's governing body said she could only be a candidate for Holyrood if she resigned her Westminster seat.

This morning, The National exclusively revealed how the SNP's NEC backed a change to the rules on dual mandates.

The new policy means MPs will need to stand down in enough time to allow a by-election to take place on the same day as the Scottish Parliament elections.

Effectively, that means if Cherry was selected as the candidate for the marginal Edinburgh Central constituency she'd then then have to quit as an MP in February and close her office and make her staff redundant.

In a statement, Cherry said she wasn't willing to do that. She said the change made a "fair and open contest" impossible.

She said: "I have not had the courtesy of any official confirmation of this decision and would not normally comment on leaks of internal party matters, however private discussions by the current SNP NEC seem to regularly reach the press and I understand that the information which has been leaked is correct.

"I think that most fair-minded people will see the events of the last few days for what they are.

"Edinburgh Central SNP, the branch of which I have been a member since I joined the SNP 12 years ago, has the right to choose the candidate it wants to field in the 2021 Holyrood election. Branch democracy is an important part of our party. Members of Edinburgh Central had hoped that I would be part of a fair and open contest, but this decision makes that impossible.

"It is unprecedented in our party’s history of dual mandates to demand that a parliamentarian make themselves and their constituency staff unemployed in order to be eligible to be a candidate.  It is particularly unreasonable to demand this in the middle of a pandemic. I am not prepared to do it and so unless circumstances change, I won’t be seeking nomination for Holyrood in this election."

Earlier this week, the SNP's former Westminster leader Angus Robertson launched his bid to represent the marginal seat currently represented by Ruth Davidson

The contest between him and Cherry had been 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 SNP has been approached for comment.