KIRSTEN Oswald has thrown her hat into the ring to replace Kirsty Blackman as the SNP’s deputy leader at Westminster.

So far the East Renfrewshire MP is the only declared candidate for the role, but it’s understood the Glasgow North East MP Anne McLaughlin is also considering a bid.

Blackman quit her party position earlier this week, though will be staying on as the MP for Aberdeen North.

In a candid statement, the politician – who has been Ian Blackford’s deputy for the last three years – said she had been struggling “with the impact that the lockdown” has taken on her mental health.

She said: “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.”

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Speaking to The National, Oswald paid tribute to her colleague: “I’m really sorry that Kirsty is standing down. However, I completely respect her decision to do that.”

Asked if she thought some of the recent public splits among SNP MPs over indyref2 and the Scottish Government’s gender recognition act would play a part in the election, Oswald said the diversity of opinion was one the parliamentary party’s strengths.

“I’m really grateful to be part of the group,” she said. “I think that one of our strengths is that we do have that sort of diversity of backgrounds, that diversity of skills, and that diversity of talent.

I think that that’s an important thing.”

She added: “When you look at the different backgrounds that people have come from there is so much experience that people are bringing with them, elements of expertise that most political groups don’t have. I think that is something that should really welcomed.”

Oswald’s candidacy has been welcomed by a number of MPs on social media.

Drew Hendry said he was “delighted to declare” his support for a “fantastic colleague”.

Angus MacNeil said it was good Oswald had put her name forward but that he hoped others would follow so the party could have a contest that would allow for “a quality debate on direction and ideas.”

Hannah Bardell, Deidre Brock, Marion Fellows, Angela Crawley and Philippa Whitford have all ruled themselves out of the contest.