JOANNA Cherry was photographed with Alba leader Alex Salmond and senior Alba member Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, and called on the SNP to work with the new pro-independence party in the lead up to indyref2.

The SNP MP, who has been critical of her own party’s leadership, insisted she has “no intention of defecting to Alba” after she shared the image.

Former first minister and ex-SNP chief Alex Salmond first put the picture of the three pro-independence figures together on his Twitter, adding a quote from Robert Burns: “Women and men o’independent mind …”

Cherry QC then shared the image, writing: “Great to meet up with old friends last night. Important to keep cross party lines of communication open. Particularly within the #Yes movement. As we take forward a campaign toward the next referendum we will need cross-party working and co-operation.”

Earlier this year at his party’s first conference, Salmond also called for parties to work together in a future campaign.

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Some social media users speculated that Cherry could be considering a move to Salmond’s party, which was set up ahead of this year’s Scottish Parliament election with the aim of prioritising independence.

Other SNP figures who have moved to Salmond’s party include MPs Kenny MacAskill and Neale Hanvey, as well as Inverclyde councillor Chris McEleny.

Alba, who went into the Holyrood election in May just a few weeks after launching, managed just 1.7% across the regional vote. The party is planning to stand candidates across Scotland in next year’s local council elections.

Despite the murmurings, Cherry told the Daily Record: “I have no intention of defecting to Alba. I was elected as an SNP MP and intend to continue as one.”

The picture came after “gender-critical” Cherry, who is unsupportive of proposed GRA changes in their current form, was embroiled in a row over conversion therapy reforms. Her tweets led to calls for her to be expelled from the SNP, and she later sought a Scottish Government investigation into an LGBT charity.

Alba have also been outspoken about proposals to allow gender self-identification, debating a motion at their September conference which demanded “female only spaces” and said the gender debate has caused “controversy and pain”.