SNP MP John Nicolson has called out the BBC for a “bizarrely pejorative” headline about Philippa Whitford after she announced she would be stepping down at the next election.

The MP for Central Ayrshire and the SNP’s Scotland Office spokesperson is the eighth SNP MP to announce they will stand down ahead of the upcoming Westminster election.

On the BBC Scotland News Twitter page, the headline on the story read: “Philippa Whitford: Eighth SNP MP to quit at next election.”

Reacting to the headline, Nicolson said: “That’s a bizarrely pejorative way to describe Dr Whitford’s retirement @BBCScotlandNews.

“Do teachers (for example) ‘quit’ at 65? They don’t abandon post. They retire.”

In a statement to the press, Whitford said it had been “an honour to serve as the MP of Central Ayrshire for the last eight years”.

She continued: “However, I will not be seeking re-election at the next Westminster election. At the time of that election, I will have been an MP for nine years and, including my time as an NHS surgeon, spent 42 years in working in public service.”

The 64-year-old has served the Commons since 2015 and said she was looking forward to spending more time with her husband Hans and away from the “negative atmosphere” in Westminster.

Other big names to announce they are standing down at the next election include Ian Blackford, Mhairi Black and Stewart Hosie.

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However, Whitford said that she intended to spend more time campaigning for independence.

She said: “I am grateful to my SNP colleagues at Westminster for their camaraderie and friendship over the last eight years and, while I will be standing down from Westminster, I will not be stepping back from the party.

“Rather, I hope to get out and campaign more as it is only by reaching out to people who previously voted ‘No’ to independence, that the case will be won.”