JOANNA Cherry will be replaced by two MPs after losingher frontbench role in a reshuffle of the SNP's Westminster team.

Ian Blackford MP announced a change to the key roles in a surprise announcement this afternoon.

Cherry, who was the party's home affairs spokesperson at Westminster, will now be replaced by Stuart McDonald and Anne McLaughlin.

McDonald has been appointed as the shadow home secretary, while McLaughlin is taking on the post of shadow secretary of state for justice and immigration.

Blackford said the reshuffle would draw on new talent and ensure the SNP has the best possible team in Westminster as Scotland faces the challenges of Covid-19 and Brexit.

He did not mention Cherry's demotion in his statement announcing the reshuffle.

He welcomed four new additions to his front bench: Patricia Gibson MP as shadow spokesperson for housing, communities and local government; Angela Crawley MP as shadow spokesperson for the Attorney General; Richard Thomson MP as shadow spokesperson for Northern Ireland; and Stephen Flynn MP as shadow spokesperson for business.

READ MORE: SNP sack Joanna Cherry from Westminster frontbench team

Blackford said: "We have a wealth of talent and experience and this reshuffle of SNP MPs ensures we are in the best possible position to hold the UK Government to account during this global pandemic and the aftermath of Brexit, to support colleagues ahead of the Scottish elections, and to deliver independence

"Team working and cooperation are key to ensure results and this reshuffle will give us a strong team to take us forward. We have an incredibly hard-working group of MPs - I thank them all for their commitment and congratulate those in new positions. 

"I was pleased to welcome four MPs to the front bench; Patricia Gibson MP, Angela Crawley MP, Richard Thomson MP and Stephen Flynn MP.  

"I would like to thank Tommy Sheppard for his work as shadow spokesperson for the Cabinet Office and I congratulate him on his new role as the SNP's shadow spokesperson for constitutional affairs. 

"Neil Gray MP will coordinate our inclusion and wellbeing team before he steps down as a MP and seeks election to the Scottish Parliament. I thank him for all his work and wish him the very best. 

"We are at a crucial time in politics. Never before have we faced a challenge as great as the global pandemic, and Scotland is acutely feeling the ramifications of leaving the European Union. With the Scottish elections on the horizon and independence in touching distance, our new team is ready to work hard for Scotland." 

Cherry has been highly critical of the SNP's previous ruling body over its decision to change the party's rule on the dual mandate, which made it harder for MPs to stand for election to Holyrood.

She had made secret of want to put herself forward for Edinburgh Central in the spring election. However, she pulled out of the race after the rule change.

Cherry had also called for Alex Salmond to be allowed back in the party and had wanted the party to do more to bring about a second independence referendum.