IAN Blackford has vowed to fight to keep his seat at the next General Election, following speculation he might stand down.

The former SNP Westminster told The National on Thursday he had not “considered” stepping down and said he would be “getting on with the job”.

He faces a challenge from a resurgent LibDems, optimistic off the back of recent victories south of the Border.

Ross, Skye and Lochaber was a LibDem stronghold until Blackford won the seat in 2015 after it – and its predecessor seats had been held by the Liberal titan Charles Kennedy for more than 30 years.

The party would face an uphill battle to win back the Highland seat, given Blackford’s nearly 10,000 vote majority at the last election – but they claimed they were confident voters would pick a “fresh start” with their candidate Angus MacDonald.

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The LibDems said there was widespread speculation the former SNP Westminster chief, replaced by Stephen Flynn earlier this year, would step away from politics come the next UK poll.

A spokesperson for the Scottish LibDems said: “It is interesting that Ian Blackford has decided to stand again, it was widely believed he would not. He will be running against successful local businessman and Highland Councillor, Angus MacDonald.

“Angus is passionate about this area and its people. He has a track record of generating local employment and helping businesses to thrive and he is already campaigning on the issues that matter, such as replacing the Belford Hospital and improving the A82.

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“The SNP simply are not delivering for the West Highlands. Powers and budgets are being centralised to Holyrood and there has been a complete dearth of infrastructure spend in the Highlands since the SNP came to power.

“At the next election, the choice in Ross, Skye and Lochaber will be clear: a fresh start with local Liberal Democrat Angus MacDonald or more of the same with Ian Blackford and the centralising SNP.”

A spokesperson for Blackford told The National: “While the Liberal Democrats snipe from the sidelines, the SNP will continue to deliver for the people of Ross, Skye and Lochaber.”