SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford hit out at Kenny MacAskill following the announcement that the MP has joined Alex Salmond’s new Alba Party.

The former justice secretary, who was elected as an SNP MP for East Lothian in the 2019 General Election, has been outspoken about his problems with the party and is a vocal critic of Nicola Sturgeon’s independence strategy.

The Alba Party revealed that MacAskill would be leaving the SNP and running as a candidate for them in the Lothian region at the upcoming Scottish Parliament election.

READ MORE: MP Kenny MacAskill quits SNP to join Alex Salmond's Alba Party

He joins Corri Wilson, Chris McEleny, Eva Comrie, Cynthia Guthrie and Salmond himself as the confirmed candidates for the new party, which believes it can create a “supermajority” for independence in Holyrood.

After MacAskill confirmed he would be leaving the SNP, Blackford fiercely criticised the MP.

“He has been an increasing embarrassment to many in the SNP and his departure is somewhat of a relief,” the MP said. “He should now resign his seat in the House of Commons to let a by-election take place.”

The National:

In an open letter to his party workers, MacAskill said: “I will be joining the newly formed Alba Party to deliver than supermajority for independence through the list vote and which I believe’s essential to achieving our nation’s independence.”

Writing in a Scotsman column today, MacAskill argued the Alba Party would appeal to many independence supporters.

"There has been some internal dissent within the SNP and a new political home will appeal to many," he wrote.

He added he was not sold on the "Both Votes SNP" strategy touted by the party.

"Firstly, the arithmetic’s clear. In 2016, the SNP polled nearly a million list votes but returned just four list MSPs, none in two out of the six regional areas. On the latest polling they’d return none in any area," he said.

This morning, Nicola Sturgeon was asked if she is concerned about further SNP figures leaving for the Alba Party. 

The National:

“Look, people will make up their own minds. I’m not overly concerned about that. If people want to do that, that’s up to them,” she said.

“I’m focused on the SNP campaign and this campaign, this is probably the most serious election in our lifetimes given the seriousness of the situation that the country is living through.

"So if you want strong experienced leadership to steer the country through the remainder of this crisis, if you want a bold policy programme to get the recovery underway and you want the chance to choose independence, voting SNP is the only way to secure that. That’s my message and it’s one I look forward to taking, socially distanced, to every corner of the country.”