FOLLOWING the news that Ian Blackford will step down as the SNP’s leader in Westminster, Alison Thewliss has announced she will stand for the position. 

In a statement released on Saturday evening, Thewliss said she would represent a “clear contrast” from “two men shouting at each [other] across the dispatch box”. 

She is the first MP to officially announce she is in the running, despite many tipping Stephen Flynn as Blackford’s successor. 

Below are some of the key facts you need to know about the MP. 

Who is Alison Thewliss? 

Thewliss studied politics and international relations at the University of Aberdeen before joining the SNP at the age of 17 in 1997. 

Following some campaigning work with the party, she stood for the Calton Ward at the 2007 Glasgow City Council election. 

READ MORE: Ian Blackford opens up on his five years as the SNP Westminster leader

She was one of 19 SNP candidates to gain a seat and was subsequently re-elected in 2012. 

Thewliss then stood down from the role in 2015 after being elected as an MP for Glasgow Central at the 2015 General Election. She currently serves as the SNP shadow chancellor.

What has the reaction to her announcement been? 

Several SNP MPs reacted to Thewliss’s announcement on social media. Pete Wishart, the party's longest serving MP, said on Twitter: “There is no one better prepared and ready to lead than Alison. Great news for the party and the group at Westminster.”

In a separate tweet he confirmed he would be supporting Thewliss to be the next group leader. 

Elsewhere, MP for Glasgow North East Anne McLaughlin said: “How fortunate we are to have so much talent to choose from.”

Councillor Julie McKenzie, who serves the Oban North and Lorn ward, said: “Delighted to see this! Wishing you all the best @alisonthewliss.

What has Thewliss said? 

In a statement released on social media, Thewliss said she had been “working for independence for over half my life”. 

She continued: “The Westminster group needs a leader who can build on Ian Blackford’s achievements and demonstrate that independence, far from being abstract, is the alternative to Brexit, the cost-of-living crisis and Tory austerity.

READ MORE: Ian Blackford's resignation is a chance to refocus for the SNP

“I had no intention of running for Westminster leader, but there is now a vacancy. I believe I can do the job well, and I feel I have a duty to step up.

“In my role as SNP Treasury spokesperson I’ve challenged the Tories on their plans for austerity, and fought for more support for people and businesses in this cost-of-living crisis.

“I will also be a clear contrast to the two men shouting at each across the dispatch box at PMQs on a Wednesday, illustrating the alternative vision on offer for Scotland. 

“I believe I have the experience and the attitude to lead the Westminster group forward so that ultimately we can win the opportunity to leave the UK Parliament once and for all and build a better future.”

According to her profile on the SNP website, Thewliss has a “keen interest in improving local government and democracy”.

She is also a member of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.