THE SNP’s transport minister has ruled himself out of the party’s deputy leadership race.

Humza Yousaf MSP said he had “struck a decent work-life balance” for the first time in many years and was trying to spend more time with loved ones.

It comes as Pete Wishart, chair of Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee, became the latest MP to consider standing for the position.

Loading article content

At least eight possible contenders are thought to be in the running after Angus Robertson resigned with immediate effect last weekend.

Mr Wishart said he was “taking a few soundings”, but would not confirm his intentions just yet.

But in an article for pro-independence newspaper The National, he said the SNP needs “to properly discuss where we find ourselves with an honest assessment of why we lost so many SNP MPs last year”.

He wrote: “We are now a mass membership party and the way we operate has not caught up to reflect that. This needs to be urgently discussed with solid contributions in how this is achieved.”

He called on the party to construct a way forward that would “enlist” those SNP voters who wanted to leave the European Union.

He added: “Unless something dramatic happens within the next few months Scotland will find itself out of the EU as part of the UK in a year’s time and we have to face up to that reality.

“I would suggest a graduated approach for an independent Scotland rejoining the European Union with a series of steps and breaks where we can properly consider our progress.”

Mr Wishart, a former member of Scottish rock bands Runrig and Big Country, suggested an independent Scotland should only fully rejoin the EU “with, at the very least, the full consent of an independent Scottish Parliament”.

But he rejected claims from some within his party that the next deputy leader should be based in Westminster to ensure balance.

“It should be the candidate who has the best vision for the party and the best ideas to take the party forward,” he wrote.

The SNP’s new deputy leader is expected to be announced at the party’s conference in Aberdeen in June, with nominations opening next month.

James Dornan MSP is so far the only candidate to announce his intention to stand, but SNP insiders said it was “pretty obvious” Westminster leader Ian Blackford would put his name forward.

Others said to be considering their position include former comedy club boss Tommy Sheppard MP and Joanna Cherry MP, a QC.

Kirsty Blackman, the SNP’s deputy Westminster leader, is also expected to stand, as well as the party’s UK health spokeswoman Philippa Whitford.

Ivan McKee, the Glasgow Provan MSP, has also been mentioned.

Mr Yousaf said there were "many reasons" he was ruling himself out, insisting he "wouldn't have enough hours in the day".

He wrote on Twitter: "Personally speaking I have also, for the first time in as many years as I can remember, struck a decent work-life balance.

"I'm trying to spend more time with the people I love, actually going to family events not having to give apologies!

"However, there's plenty of talent within the SNP, there will be great slate of candidates putting their names forward.

"For me, I have a time consuming Government job, am dedicated to my constituents and lucky to have many people I love that I want to spend more time with."