ASH Regan has admitted she has not spoken to her constituents about defecting to Alba even though some of them have already written to her to oppose her decision. 

The former SNP leadership candidate announced she was joining Alex Salmond’s party at the weekend, suggesting the SNP had “lost its focus” on independence.

She told The National on Monday that some of her Edinburgh Eastern constituents had already told her they do not agree with her move, but she is refusing to resign her seat insisting they “know her and trust her”.

Asked if she had spoken to constituents about moving to Alba, she said: “No I haven’t.

“I have had a number of people [constituents] write to me both for and against [my defection] so I will go back and engage with those constituents. But I will continue to stand up for them and do what I think is right.”

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First Minister Humza Yousaf urged Regan to resign from her seat given she had been elected in 2016 and 2021 on an SNP ticket, stressing it would be the “honourable” thing for her to do.

But Regan said she felt she was still staying true to her election pledge.

“I don’t [plan to resign]. I stood for election in 2016 on a pro-independence platform,” she said.

“I doubled the majority in 2021. I think my constituents know me and trust me and I believe I am staying true to my election pledge of progressing independence even though I’ve moved over to the Alba Party."

Regan revealed she made a snap decision to defect to the Alba Party just two days before their conference after the SNP opted to pursue a “failed” independence strategy.

She said the SNP’s decision to use a majority of seats at the General Election as a trigger for independence negotiations with Westminster at their conference a week before was the “tipping point”.

Asked when she decided to shift to Alba, she said: “I can honestly tell you it was not something I had been considering for a long period of time at all.

“I take the view that if you’re in a political party and you feel you can see they’ve got challenges and issues, the job is not to sit quietly at the back. The job is to step up, use your voice, and I think the membership would expect you to engage with the leadership and have robust arguments about policy.

The National:

“I have tried to do that. But there comes a point where you feel you cannot continue to stand behind the policies that have been picked, so it’s a policy divergence issue, but it’s not a niche policy [progressing independence].

“I personally feel this is a matter of urgency.

“I came to that decision because I felt that the founding principles of the SNP – which is the pursuit and achievement of Scottish independence – has become something that has drifted down in the level of importance for the SNP and for me, that crystalised at the recent conference where the SNP picked an independence strategy. It’s a failed strategy.”

Regan’s defection was followed by that of South Ayrshire councillor Chris Cullen on Monday, meaning the party now has representatives at Westminster, Holyrood and at local government level for the first time.

Humza Yousaf – who ultimately won the leadership contest against Regan and Kate Forbes – said her defection was “no great loss” to the party.

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The former community safety minister, who resigned from government last year in protest over gender reforms, refused to say whether she was hurt by the comment and instead insisted she wanted to continue working with the SNP.

She added: “I think everyone can see Humza is going through a really tough time in his personal life right now.

“He’s got in-laws trapped in Gaza and doesn’t know if he’s going to see them again, and clearly that is unbelievably stressful.

“I wish Humza well, I wish the SNP well. I genuinely feel that way. There’s some fine nationalists in the SNP and I want to continue to work with them.”