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Calls made for by-elections after second SNP MP deflects to Alba Party

CALLS have been made for by-elections after a second SNP politician defected to former first minister Alex Salmond’s new Alba Party today.

Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP Neale Hanvey followed East Lothian MP Kenny MacAskill in joining the newly formed group.

Mr Hanvey was previously suspended by the SNP over allegedly anti-semitic language on social media.

Mr Salmond announced that he would be standing as a candidate in May’s Holyrood election as part of plans to gain a “super majority” for independence supporters in the Scottish Parliament.

Scottish Labour campaign co-chair Neil Bibby said that Mr Hanvey’s defection “reveals the utter disarray that the SNP is in.”

He said: “Neale Hanvey and Kenny MacAskill must both stand down and give their constituents the chance to elect politicians more interested in guaranteeing Scotland’s recovery than endlessly re-fighting yesterday’s war.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign chair Alistair Carmichael said: “Like paint chipping off an old and decaying wall, Neale Hanvey’s defection is the latest episode in the nationalists’ bitter, twisted and divided civil war.”

Former justice secretary Mr MacAskill said that he would not be standing down to allow a by-election.

The Alba Party will only be standing candidates in the regional lists, in an attempt to boost pro-independence numbers in Holyrood.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said that with lives and livelihoods at risk during the pandemic, Scotland “deserves better than this psychodrama.”

She said: “Scottish Labour will focus on a national recovery plan for Scotland and on what unites our country, not what divides us.”

An SNP spokesman said that it is focused on tackling Covid-19 and securing a “strong, fair and green recovery for Scotland as an independent country in a post-pandemic referendum.”

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