IAN Blackford has said that a looming “coup” led to him quitting as leader of the SNP at Westminster.

Speaking in an appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe, he said: “There were some people that wanted my bum off that front bench.”

Balckford, who is stepping down as the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber at the next General Election, added that they wanting him out for “their own reasons and their own ambitions”.

The claim has been denied by his successor Stephen Flynn and others before. After he was confirmed as Westminster leader at the time, Flynn told BBC Radio Scotland: “Some folk have been watching a little bit too much House of Cards.”

Blackford also told broadcaster Iain Dale and former Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith at For The Many Live on Sunday that he had discussed the issue with then First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who then made him the SNP’s business ambassador as a consequence.

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He said: “I think it's fair to say - how can I put it - that perhaps there were some people that wanted my bum off that front bench.

“I knew that there was going to be a challenge that was coming my way. I knew that there was a small group of people that for whatever reason wanted to see a change.

“I discussed it with Nicola, and I said to Nicola, look, my passion is to work with you, to work with the Government on economic policy, to work with the business community.

“I didn't even finish the [sentence], she said, yup, I’ll appoint you as my business ambassador.

“I said, fine, now’s the time then. I’m going to take this decision myself, that I'm going to move on, and I'll take this position that you're offering, which Humza has reappointed me at.

“I think if I’d put myself forward for election in December - because in the SNP Westminster group you have to put yourself forward every year - and I think if I’d stood in that election I would have won, albeit that there would have been some opposition to me.

“I'm happy to leave others now to steer the ship through the next period.”

Asked whether he thought senior people in the SNP considered it as a “coup”, Blackford responded: “Yeah.”

Blackford added that he preferred not to describe it as such at the time, saying: “I’m a loyalist in that sense.

"But I think, for whatever reason, there was a number of people that would rather have seen me off the front bench.”

He went on: “People have their own reasons and their own ambitions and it's probably best just to leave it at that.”