JACOB Rees-Mogg has praised Joanna Cherry's "courage" after she was removed from her frontbench role in the SNP.

Cherry was dropped from her position as SNP justice and home affairs spokeswoman in a reshuffle by Ian Blackford on Monday, which led to an angry backlash among her supporters.

Rees-Mogg suggested “internal SNP politicking” was behind the decision.

READ MORE: Kenny MacAskill leads furious backlash against sacking of Joanna Cherry

The move comes amid tensions in the party over the route to independence and disagreements over transgender rights, with Cherry having previously raising concerns over the Scottish Government's plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act.

Further differences of views persist over Alex Salmond and whether the former First Minister and SNP leader should be readmitted to the party after being acquitted of all charges at his criminal trial last year. Cherry backed his readmission to the party.

Cherry stated she was “sacked” and later contacted police over a “vicious threat” she received online from a man.

READ MORE: Man charged in connection with 'vicious threat' sent to Joanna Cherry

The SNP MP said the Commons earlier: “Across our society, and particularly in universities and the third sector, women and some men are losing their jobs, having their positions undermined and their personal safety put in jeopardy simply for questioning the ideology that any man can self-identify as a woman, and for speaking up for women’s sex-based rights under the Equality Act.

“Does the Leader of the House agree with me that all democrats should condemn such attacks on free speech, and can we have a debate about free speech and the importance of sex as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act?”

Rees-Mogg said he was “sorry” Cherry was no longer on the SNP front bench, adding she was “one of the most intelligent and careful scrutinisers of Government” in the Commons.

He also said: “As I believe good government depends on careful scrutiny, her removal from office is a loss to our democratic system.

“Dare I say, perhaps ungraciously, that Moanalot is responsible for this and it may be for reasons of internal SNP politicking.”

The nickname “moanalot” is one Rees-Mogg has previously used for First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

WATCH: Tory minister Jacob Rees-Mogg calls Nicola Sturgeon 'moanalot'

He added: “Free speech is fundamental, and it is disgraceful that [Cherry] received threats for her views and from her removal from office, to the extent that the police had to be involved.

“Every member of this House should feel safe in whatever they say, as long as it is within the law and it is not effectively threatening violence.”

He added: “It is outrageous that [Cherry] should have been placed in this position.

“And can I commit to supporting freedom of speech? Absolutely, I can. This is what this place exists for, that’s what underpins our democracy.

“And much though I disagree with her on so many things, may I commend her courage in standing up for freedom of speech and putting forward her views clearly in a difficult and sensitive area, but one where she has a right to be heard.”

READ MORE: Joanna Cherry in 'pole position' to challenge Nicola Sturgeon for SNP leadership

An SNP spokesman said in a statement: “Joanna Cherry was removed from the front bench because of unacceptable behaviour, which did not meet the standards expected of a front bench spokesperson – not because of the views she holds.”

It comes as one of the UK’s leading political analysts said the SNP are facing their biggest internal battle in 40 years which could damage their chance of winning the Holyrood election and progressing independence.

Sir John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, said the sacking of Cherry represented the most dissension in the party since the 1980s, when Alex Salmond was expelled. Curtice added that the current power struggle looked set to continue.

READ MORE: Sir John Curtice says SNP are facing biggest internal rift since 1980s

“It’s clear that the biggest risk that Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP seem to face, vis-a-vis these May elections is not really their political opponents, who, for the most part, have struggled to land much of a blow on the SNP during the course of the last 12 months, but rather the internal tensions and disputes within the party,” Curtice said in an interview yesterday.

“It’s perfectly clear that the relationship between Ms Sturgeon and her predecessor, Alex Salmond, has indeed completely fallen apart.

“And one of the ironies of the situation we face is that when the SNP look to potentially be closer to delivering that aim of independence than the party ever has been since its foundation in the 1930s, it is actually certainly facing its most internal dissension and rift since the early 1980s, which was an occasion when Alex Salmond got thrown out of the party.”

Asked by Sputnik News whether he believed there would be further dismissals, Curtice said there was limited extent for a “purge”.

“What is certainly true is that the three MPs who are known to be most sympathetic to Alex Salmond are the three MPs and the only three MPs in the SNP group who are currently not being given role as spokesmen for one subject or the other,” he said.

“One of those others is Kenny MacAskill, who has long been critical of Nicola Sturgeon’s stance on the indyref. But there’s a limit to the extent to which Nicola Sturgeon can necessarily purge."