Nicola Sturgeon savages Alex Salmond as SNP MP defects to Alba

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Bob cartoon, March 28 - Bob
Bob cartoon, March 28 - Bob

Nicola Sturgeon has said there are "significant questions" about Alex Salmond's political comeback as it emerged that his new Alba Party had claimed its first major defector.

Mr Salmond launched his latest political project on Friday to create a "supermajority" of pro-independence supporters in Holyrood. He will stand among its regional list of candidates in the upcoming Scottish elections.

On Saturday Kenny MacAskill, the East Lothian MP and former Scottish justice secretary, quit the SNP to join the new party, for whom he will also stand for election to Holyrood.

Of Mr Salmond, Ms Sturgeon said: "I think there are significant questions about the appropriateness of his return to public office given the concerns that have been raised about his behaviour previously but that's for voters to judge and decide. This is an election. We live in a democracy."

Mr MacAskill announced his move to his staff via email. He said: "I will be joining the newly formed Alba Party to deliver a super-majority for independence through the list vote and which I believe is essential to achieving our nation's independence.

"My office will continue operating for constituents and I will continue serving as MP. Now is the time for Scotland to choose a different way, a different direction. It's a party for those who support the cause of independence". He added that he believes his decision is "the best way to achieve our goal of independence... That's why not only winning the election but winning it well is essential.

"Boris Johnson must not be able to reject Scotland's democratic rights. Scottish democracy must prevail over a Westminster veto."

The SNP called for a by-election in response to the defection. The party's Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: "He has been an increasing embarrassment to many in the SNP and his departure is somewhat of a relief.

"That he is joining a party with serious questions to answer about its leader's suitability for public office is no surprise. He should now resign his seat in the House of Commons to let a by-election take place immediately so the people of East Lothian can elect a new MP who will focus on their interests, rather than self-interest."

Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael said: "Kenny MacAskill wants to go from being the SNP MP for East Lothian, to the Alba Party MSP for Lothians.

"I will be interested to see how he pursues this role from his home in Banffshire."

Timeline which led to Alex Salmond's Alba Party
Timeline which led to Alex Salmond's Alba Party

Ian Murray, the shadow secretary of state for Scotland, added: "The already thin veneer that separated Alex Salmond's party from the SNP has totally cracked in just 24 hours."

Despite being the most high-profile defector, Mr MacAskill is not the only one leaving. Former SNP councillor, Chris McEleny, is standing for the Alba Party in the Scottish elections.

Former SNP MP Corri Wilson has also defected. Her updated Twitter profile describes her as an "Ex SNP Cllr & MP for Ayr Carrick & Cumnock" while she also retweeted a post that quoted her as saying she would stand for the new party in South of Scotland.

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