SNP Westminster deputy leader Mhairi Black fears Kate Forbes could end up splitting the party if she succeeds in the race to become the next first minister.
The firebrand Paisley MP – who became Stephen Flynn’s No2 in December – said “I don’t know” when asked if the SNP would be fractured by the finance secretary winning.
Ms Forbes sparked widespread anger last month when she launched her campaign to become SNP leader after admitting she would have voted against gay marriage.
Ms Black, who got married to wife Katie last year, took aim at Ms Forbes in a lengthy Twitter thread days later saying she had been “incredibly hurt” by her party colleague’s comments.
The House of Commons SNP deputy has backed Dundee-based Humza Yousaf to succeed Nicola Sturgeon, claiming he is the best candidate for the job.
Speaking on political podcast The Bunker, Ms Black claimed what Ms Forbes said had been “damaging”.
‘Wait and see’
When asked if her becoming SNP leader would split the party, she said: “Honestly I don’t know, to tell you the truth.
“It’s very much a wait and see what happens. I wouldn’t even want to risk that, that’s why I’m backing Humza.
“I think he’s the best person to be able to band folk together again.”
In her public criticism of the finance chief on social media, Ms Black claimed Ms Forbes had “alienated swathes of the population”.
A lot of people have asked me my views of the leadership contest. Truthfully, I have been incredibly hurt so far. Hurt originating with the statements @_KateForbes has made and since stood by. I, like most people in Scotland, could not care less about someone’s religion. (1/10)
— Mhairi Black MP🏳️🌈 (@MhairiBlack) February 24, 2023
Health secretary Mr Yousaf emerged as the early frontrunner to take over from Ms Sturgeon and he has secured a number of key endorsements.
He has been backed by every elected politician in Dundee, including Ms Sturgeon’s close ally Shona Robison.
He has pitched himself to SNP members as the continuity candidate best-placed to carry over the outgoing first minister’s legacy.
However, questions have been raised over his record in government and polling indicates Ms Forbes still has a chance of victory.
A new Channel 4 survey found the two were almost neck-and-neck among SNP voters.
In an STV debate on Tuesday, the finance secretary launched an extraordinary attack on her leadership rival’s performance in Holyrood.
She claimed he had failed as transport minister, justice secretary and health chief, escalating the party’s simmering civil war.
SNP insiders were left reeling from the debate which brought wounds festering within the independence movement out into the open.
Highland MSP Emma Roddick, who has backed Mr Yousaf, said Ms Forbes “went too far” in her criticisms of Mr Yousaf.
Perthshire SNP veteran Pete Wishart warned it was “not a good look” for leadership contenders to be trashing their party’s record in government.