WHEN THE KISSING HAD TO STOP: Angus MacNeil confirms he’ll stand AGAINST SNP

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 28 : Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP with Angus MacNeil MSP after her key note speech during the Scottish National Party (SNP), Spring Conference ahead of the 2015 General Election at the SECC on March 28, 2015 in Glasgow Scotland. During her speech, the SNP's leader promised to seek reform within Westminster to respond to the needs of ordinary people across the UK, should the electorate vote for the party on May 7. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
Angus MacNeil with Nicola Sturgeon in 2015 but the pair were rarely on the same page – and he’s not impressed with her successor either.

The crisis at the heart of the SNP is deepening after an MP confirmed he was “reconciled” to standing against the party at the next general election.

Angus MacNeil said he would put himself forward as an independent in his Na h-Eileanan Siar constituency unless there is a “substantial change of direction” in the party’s leadership.

Mr MacNeil was excluded from the party after reportedly clashing with chief whip and Helensburgh MSP Brendan O’Hara, pictured left,  who is a close ally of Commons group leader Stephen Flynn.

He was initially suspended from the Westminster group but said he would not rejoin after it had lifted and was expelled.

He caused further anger among the SNP ranks when he agreed to appear at a meeting organised by Alex Salmond’s Alba Party on Monday night. And it seems he was in no mood to go easy on his former colleagues or party leader Humza Yousaf.

Speaking via Zoom at the event, which was also arranged by Yes Fraserburgh and Brochers for Independence, he said: “Unless there is a substantial change of direction in the leadership of the SNP, I am reconciled to fighting the election as an independent candidate.

“I can do no other and retain my freedom and ability to defend my constituents on issues such as ferries and fishing without fear or favour and no amount of aggressive whipping can persuade me otherwise.”

Mr MacNeil, 53, was first elected as an SNP MP in 2005 for the Western Isles. Despite being one of the longest-serving Nat MPs, he has often found himself at odds with the party leadership under Nicola Sturgeon and Mr Yousaf and has accused them of taking a backseat in the push for Scexit.

He told the meeting that loyalty to his area came first, saying: “For me, as an MP loyalty to constituency comes first, country next and then and only then to party. I say this as a former SNP member of 30 years standing.”

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