KIRSTEN Oswald has announced she will step down as the SNP's deputy Westminster leader.

The East Renfrewshire MP said it made sense that there would be a new depute following Ian Blackford's decision to resign as the party's group leader in the House of Commons.

Oswald became deputy leader in 2020, taking over from Kirsty Blackman. She is also the SNP's spokesperson on women and equalities.

She also confirmed that she won't enter the race to become the London group's next leader.

READ MORE: Scotland reacts to Ian Blackford's decision to step down as SNP Westminster leader

In a statement, Oswald said: "I have decided I will not be standing for re-election at our Westminster Group AGM next week.

"It has been a privilege to be part of the SNP leadership team, including working closely with Ian Blackford MP and colleagues across the parliamentary group.

"During this time, Westminster has lurched from one crisis to another. Since I became Deputy Leader there have been three different prime ministers, an ongoing Brexit catastrophe, the covid pandemic and a growing Tory cost of living crisis.

"With a fresh leader being elected, and a new phase of the independence campaign about to begin, I believe now is the time to pass the baton to one of my many talented SNP colleagues.

"I would like to thank our MPs and staff for their support during my time as Deputy Leader. Whoever is elected to replace me, will have my full support and I look forward to working alongside them. I will continue to serve my constituents as MP for East Renfrewshire, and will also continue in my party role as SNP Business Convenor."

Tweeting about Oswald's decision to stand down, her colleague John Nicolson MP said: "Kirsten is the best of colleagues. Kind, thoughtful, measured and discreet. She will continue to be a powerful advocate for her constituents and causes she holds dear."

Pete Wishart added: "Kirsten reinvented and developed the role of Deputy Leader of the Westminster group and made it central to all of the activities of the SNP at Westminster. Incredible shift Kirsten."

And Glasgow South MP Stewart McDonald said: "Being Deputy Leader of the Westminster group is a tough and often thankless task, but Kirsten has done it with good grace, discretion and a tonne of hard work. Thank you for all you’ve done for the team, Kirsten."

Blackford announced on Thursday he would not seek re-election to the post at the SNP’s AGM next week, just weeks after reports Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn was manoeuvring to take over. Flynn denied these rumours.

However, the politician remains the favourite to take over from Blackford.

NEXT READ: Who is Stephen Flynn? The favourite to take over as SNP leader at Westminster