IVAN McKee, the business minister who was one of Kate Forbes’s first and most prominent backers in the SNP leadership race, is no longer involved with her campaign, The National understands.

McKee is understood to have stepped back from his role at the head of Forbes’s campaign on Monday morning.

SNP MSP Michelle Thomson is now running the Finance Secretary’s bid to lead her party and the Scottish Government.

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There was speculation that McKee could withdraw his support from Forbes one week ago after she said she would have voted against equal marriage for LGBT people.

On Tuesday, February 21, the day after Forbes launched her campaign, McKee refused to say that he would still be backing her by the following day.

Instead, he told Channel 4: “I’m going to talk to Kate later on about the campaign.”

STV reported speculation that Forbes could drop out with McKee taking her place, but that never materialised and the Finance Secretary has insisted she will battle on.

A host of other SNP parliamentarians withdrew their support from Forbes after her comments on gay marriage, including Richard Lochhead, Gillian Martin, and Tom Arthur.

A spokesperson for Forbes suggested McKee had stepped back as campaign manager due to time constraints.

They said: “The leadership campaign is short. As a Scottish Government minister with significant responsibilities, Ivan McKee has limitations on his time.”

McKee was approached for comment.