THE new leader of the SNP’s Westminster group has denied claims he plotted against his predecessor Ian Blackford.

Stephen Flynn said anyone who thinks otherwise had watched “too much House of Cards”, a popular TV political drama.

Flynn spoke after a third member of Mr Blackford’s front bench team announced he was standing down to go to the back benches. Chris Law said he was leaving his role as shadow international development secretary following similar moves from SNP colleagues Pete Wishart and Stewart McDonald.

Flynn, the MP for Aberdeen South, was chosen by the party’s Westminster group to be their new leader ahead of rival candidate Alison Thewliss.

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He spoke to the BBC’s Drivetime programme, where he was asked if he had plotted to become the new leader.

Flynn said: “Of course not. I think what we’ve seen over the course of recent days and recent weeks is that some folk have been watching a little bit too much House of Cards. There’s been some very uninformed opinion in the public domain.”

Blackford said he would be stepping down as Westminster group leader last week, a position he had held since the 2017 election.

Flynn was also asked about the fact that he launched a leadership bid just two weeks after publicly denying he would do so.

The MP tweeted that he had “no intention of standing” in response to a story saying a “coup” was under way to replace Mr Blackford.

He said: “I don’t think I necessarily changed my mind. When I tweeted in the public domain there was no vacancy.

“We had a parliamentary group leader, we were waiting on the outcome of the UK Supreme Court, what changed was the fact that Ian opted to stand down.”

When Wishart announced he was leaving the front bench, he published a letter saying he was “bemused” that Flynn felt it necessary for a change in leadership. Flynn praised Wishart as an “esteemed colleague” who supported himself and deputy group leader Mhairi Black.

He said: “Ian himself took the decision to stand down and it’s for Ian to address any concerns that Pete might have in relation to that. I can’t speak for Ian in that regard.”

The new SNP group leader said he was currently assembling his front bench team, who would be a “dynamic set of folk”.

He said he looked forward to the new gender recognition law passing in Scotland, legislation which has proved divisive among SNP MSPs.

Flynn also said he backed Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to treat the next general election as a “de facto referendum” but added that party members would decide on exactly what this means.

He said: “I’m looking forward to us all coming together to really put the pressure on the Tories, to highlight the issues facing the people of Scotland in relation to the cost-of-living crisis, the damage being caused by Brexit, the complicity of the Labour Party in relation to that.

“And, of course, the fact that Scotland has that democratic right to choose its own future.”