STEPHEN Flynn has denied reports he will challenge Ian Blackford as SNP Westminster leader. 

The Aberdeen South MP has responded to claims, first reported in The Times, saying he has "no intention of standing". 

Tweeting a link to the original article, the MP said: "As much as I love seeing photos from the days when I was still clinging on to some hair, I can confirm I’ve no intention of standing."

An SNP spokesperson said the rumours were "mischief from Ian Murray". 

The Labour MP tweeted: "Rumours abound at Westminster that Ian Blackford is to face a challenge to his leadership of the SNP group. They are very much not a happy bunch at the moment."

An anonymous source told The Times Flynn had been "on manouvres for some time" to mount a challenge against Blackford - something The National's sources have confirmed. 

An SNP source in the north-east told The National: "Ian Blackford and Stephen Flynn are both very well respected and capable politicians.

"It’s important internal democracy is allowed to take place without remarks of a 'coup' as Stephen Flynn has proven himself to be part of the new wave of fresh talent among the SNP’s ranks.

"Flynn would undoubtedly make an exceptional leader for the Party in Westminster, particularly as someone who is from the North East and has proven himself to be of extraordinary talent, hardworking and focused on convincing people of the positive case of Scottish independence."

An SNP source familiar with Flynn added: "Stephen has proven himself in parliament as a dynamic politican and anyone who knows him speaks highly of him as a strategist, leader, boss and human.

"With an independence campaign to win we need someone with those talents leading us out the Westminster door for the last time."

It is understood there is some disquiet about Blackford's leadership after he was forced to apologise for encouraging colleagues to rally around the disgraced Glasgow North MP Patrick Grady. 

In a leaked recording of a Westminster SNP group meeting, Blackford was heard telling MPs to give Grady - who now sits as an independent - "as much support as possible". 

There are also tensions among the group after the demotion of Joanna Cherry from the party's front bench for her views on transgender rights, as a gender-critical feminist.