IAN Blackford has called for "action not words" from Scotland's First Minister as he insisted the SNP need to regain people's trust in the build-up to the General Election.

The former SNP Westminster leader - who announced last week he would be stepping down as an MP after this term - said he couldn't "defend failure" in the party, adding that Humza Yousaf had a "year to 15 months" to show people can still put faith in them and "we have to do it".

Blackford also said the SNP should consider working with Labour to kick out the Tories at the election, contrary to the views of some of his colleagues.

In an interview with the Sunday Mail, Blackford said: "I’m not going to defend failure. When things have gone wrong, you’ve got to accept it. If you look at the polling, you can see that SNP support has dipped over the recent past – you can’t deny that.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf: I will deliver independence for Scotland

"People will be asking the question as we go into the election next year, ‘Is the SNP, is Humza, is the team he’s got… are they people who can be trusted?’ We’ve got a year to 15 months to show that and we have to do it.

"My message to Humza is, if you’re serious about doing the things you want to as First Minister, then you’re in the driving seat in this. It’s not about words, it’s not about saying, ‘We’ll build a relationship with the business community’. In the end, it’s about actions.”

On whether he think the SNP should prop up a Labour government if there is a hung parliament, Blackford said he would "get round the table" to get rid of the Tories.

He said it was incumbent on MPs to work for their constituents, even if that meant working with opposition politicians.

But he did highlight the party had a mandate for an independence referendum that "Westminster must respect".

He said: “My SNP membership card – the original paper one – used to say ‘Scottish independence and the furtherance of all Scottish interests’.

“I want to get independence but if I can find ways of furthering Scottish interests and I have to work with other people to do that, why wouldn’t I do it? As long as they’re not the Tories.

“You want to defeat people with elections, you want to win, but your job is to make things better, so if I can work with people to make things better then I’ll do it.

"What I would say, whether it’s Keir Starmer or anybody else, if we have a mandate for an independence referendum, as we do particularly from the Scottish election in 2021, then Westminster must respect. But yes, I’ll get round the table. I don’t want a Tory government."

Blackford told The National last week that he “agonised” over the decision to stand down, but would be focusing on his role as business ambassador for the SNP going forward.

The Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP said he would be “assisting” Yousaf and Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray in making the industry case for independence.

He also revealed that a roadmap for Scotland’s green industrial future will be published in the next few weeks.

Blackford, 62, commissioned the report titled Mapping Scotland's Industrial Strategy from independent experts Sir Martin Donnelly and Professor Dominic Houlder in February.