Former SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson has launched his campaign to enter Holyrood with an apparent dig at his Nationalist rival chasing the same seat.
The former Moray MP emphasised he would support Nicola Sturgeon when he formally announced his bid for the Edinburgh Central seat, a pointed remark that looked to have been directed at Joanna Cherry QC, the SNP MP for Edinburgh South West.
Ms Cherry is close to Alex Salmond and has been the subject of speculation that she would be the candidate favoured by the former SNP leader’s supporters to replace Ms Sturgeon.
Mr Robertson’s campaign was launched with a twitter video outside the Scottish Parliament where he announced his intention to capture the seat, currently held by the former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson.
Pleased to officially launch my campaign for Edinburgh Central. Want to help me win Ruth Davidson’s seat from the Tories and secure a pro-independence majority for @theSNP in next year’s Scottish Parliament elections? Pls visit and sign-up: https://t.co/CSwBcHDfgv #voteAngus pic.twitter.com/RrVg3AN5DW
— Angus Robertson (@AngusRobertson) July 26, 2020
“At present Ruth Davidson holds this seat for the Tories with a tiny 610-vote majority and I believe that I can win here with the support of SNP members and voters of all parties who don’t want to see the area represented by a pro-Brexit MSP,” Mr Robertson said.
Mr Robertson also emphasised his connections to the area, saying: “I grew up in Edinburgh Central, I work here today, this is where I live.
“I understand the different issues that matter to people and communities right across Edinburgh Central.
“If you want to elect a hard-working, local MSP, with high-profile national experience who will support First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and deliver independence, please support my campaign.”
Mr Robertson lost his Moray seat to the Conservative Douglas Ross in the 2017 General Election. Prior to that he had represented the constituency for around 16 years. He also served as the party’s depute leader and Westminster leader and has also been tipped as a future leader, although he is close to Ms Sturgeon.
Ms Cherry has refused to rule out running for the SNP leadership in the future, a task that would be more straight forward if she had a seat at Holyrood rather than Westminster.
In the past she has said that the SNP’s aim for an independent Scotland can only be won from Holyrood when she explained why she was seeking the party’s nomination for Edinburgh Central.
The SNP’s selection process that will determine who stands in the seat is currently suspended due to the coronavirus.
Ms Cherry appeared to hit back at Mr Robertson shortly after he announced his campaign launch.
She posted a tweet, which seemed to take issue with Mr Robertson’s claim that he would not be a “pro-Brexit MSP”.
We need a grown up conversation about policy & strategy. We must provide answers to questions about #EU accession, borders, economics & what kind of Scotland we want. A worthy heir to the enlightenment? Or one where debate is not encouraged?
— Joanna Cherry QC (@joannaccherry) July 26, 2020
Ms Cherry said: “The trouble with pitching for @theSNP Holyrood #2021 as the anti #Brexit candidate is that #Brexit has happened. Despite the best efforts of those of us who fought it tooth & nail. The issue is how we secure #independence & #Scotland’s Future in Europe.
“We need a grown up conversation about policy & strategy. We must provide answers to questions about #EU accession, borders, economics & what kind of Scotland we want. A worthy heir to the enlightenment? Or one where debate is not encouraged.”