SNP MP Kirsty Blackman has announced she will step down as the party’s deputy leader at Westminster.
The Aberdeen MP has served as deputy to Ian Blackford in the UK Parliament for three years.
The 34-year-old announced her decision on Wednesday, citing the impact of lockdown on her mental health.
Westminster leader Ian Blackford praised her as a “valued colleague and friend”.
Mental health issues
Mrs Blackman said in her statement: “I’m proud of what I’ve achieved as SNP Westminster Deputy Leader over the past three years. Together with our team of SNP MPs we have provided a strong voice for Scotland at a challenging time, won a landslide victory at the general election, and seen support for independence rise to record levels.
“Like many others, I’ve struggled with the impact that lockdown has had on my mental health. In order to prioritise my constituency and my family, I have made the difficult personal decision to step down from my Leadership role.
“I strongly believe that people must be able to talk openly about mental health issues, which affect so many of us. I look forward to continuing my work for Aberdeen North and standing up for Scotland at Westminster.”
The MP has criticised the Westminster parliament for its lack of family-friendly working practices.
In 2016 she was reprimanded by Commons authorities for bringing her children to a committee hearing.
She had experienced childcare difficulties because parliament’s summer recess follows English school holidays, while Scottish schools break up at the end of June.
She also highlighted the “ridiculously archaic voting system” where MPs have to physically be present to vote.
SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP said: “I want to express my thanks and gratitude to Kirsty for her three years as SNP Westminster Deputy Leader.
‘Constituents and family first’
“It has been a pleasure to work together, she has been a valued colleague and friend. She has made an important contribution to our work standing up for Scotland at Westminster and making the case for independence.
“I respect her decision to put her constituents and family first – and know she will continue to play a key role in the SNP team as the MP for Aberdeen North.”
Back in 2016, Mrs Blackman stood down from Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee to spend more time in her constituency.
Ms Blackman said it was “becoming a challenge” to spend more time working away from Aberdeen with the committee, which often travels around the country.
She was elected to the Aberdeen North constituency in May 2015.