23:26 GMT01 March 2021
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    The Scottish National Party has been mired in splits and controversy in recent weeks over accusations against the leadership that it had not been effective in combatting anti-transgender sentiment among top politicians.

    Top Scottish National Party (SNP) MP, Joanna Cherry QC, was sacked from the party's front bench in Westminster on Sunday.

    Cherry, who represents the Edinburgh South West constituency and served as her party's justice spokeswoman, announced that she had been removed in a post on Twitter where she pledged to continue working for her constituents who gave her "a resounding mandate in recent [national executive committee] elections".

    She added that Westminster "is increasingly irrelevant to Scotland's constitutional future" and urged the SNP to rethink their policy radically.

    ​Though the SNP has not explained why Cherry was sacked, it comes as other ruptures have emerged within the party relating to trans rights. 

    The Edinburgh South West MP accused Twitter of “hateful conduct” after ‘gender critical’ family law barrister Sarah Phillimore was banned by the site for supposedly abusive remarks to the trans community.

    A row between Cherry, who is openly a lesbian, and Out for Independence, the SNP's LGBT+ wing, soon broke out as the organisation challenged “the support given to Sarah Phillimore today by an SNP MP” and Cherry accused the group of defamation.

    This culminated in First Minister Nicola Sturgeon intervening in the clash last week saying that the party has "zero tolerance" for transphobia after a number of young members left claiming that the leadership had failed to tackle anti-trans sentiment.

    ​Cherry's role will be taken up by Anne McLaughlin. SNP MP for Glasgow North East and the former spokeswomen for women and equalities.

    Stuart McDonald, MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East, will take up the position of home affairs.

    As part of the reshuffle, Edinburgh East MP Tommy Sheppard lost his position the party's shadow spokesman for the Cabinet Office and has been moved to be shadow spokesman for constitutional affairs. 

    SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford welcomed the four new members to the front bench as it was announced.

    ​New additions to the front bench team include Angela Crawley, who has take up the role as shadow spokesperson for the attorney general; Patricia Gibson as shadow spokesperson for housing, communities, and local government; Richard Thomson as shadow spokesperson for Northern Ireland and Stephen Flynn as shadow spokesperson for business, energy and industrial strategy.

    The change puts every MP in a leadership role with the exception of three politicians considered to be closest to former first minister Alex Salmond: Cherry, East Lothian MP Kenny MacAskill, and Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil.

    Salmond is at present in a dispute with Sturgeon over the Scottish Government's alleged mishandling of sexual misconduct accusations made against him, of which he was later acquitted.

    Tags:
    reshuffle, Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP)
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