THE high-profile MP tipped as the next leader of the SNP has admitted she is “not Nicola’s best mate”.

Joanna Cherry QC revealed she had only ever had one sit-down talk with the current First Minister despite being being an MP since 2015.

The Scottish Tories said it showed "sour" relations at the top of the party.

Ms Cherry also said she had only received a single text of congratulations from Ms Sturgeon over her recent legal wins on Brexit and the unlawful prorogation of Westminster.

“I’m not complaining that I’m not Nicola’s best mate,” she told Holyrood magazine, adding the First Minister had a country to run.

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However the Edinburgh South West MP said she was a good friend of Alex Salmond, calling him “the greatest leader the party’s ever had”.

Referring to former First Minister’s impending criminal trial, she said she was worried about the “political fall-out for the party”.

She said: “Alex is my friend, and I was brought up to stand by my friends. It’s the kind of family I come from. 

“Alex is clear that he’s innocent and I respect that. I also believe that justice will be done because I trust in the Scottish courts to deliver a just decision.

“Of course I worry about the political fall-out for the party from any trial because it’s an invidious position to be in for the former first minister, the greatest leader the party’s ever had, the leader who took the party from obscurity to government, being on trial for very serious claims. It does worry me, yeah.”

Ms Cherry was part of a successful legal challenge that ended in the European Court of Justice confirming the UK could unilaterally revoked Article 50 to stop Brexit.

She was also the lead player in the Scottish case with saw the UK Supreme Court rule Boris Johnson had unlawfully attempted to close down Parliament for five weeks.

And she is currently part of a challenge at the Court of Session to ensure the UK requests a Brexit delay from the EU if Mr Johnson breaks the law by refusing to do it himself.

READ MORE: Cherry says her critics inside SNP driven by misogyny

On her relationship with Ms Sturgeon, she said: “I don’t know her very well. She’s running the country; I’m down in Westminster. And [SNP Westminster leader] Ian Blackford has been very supportive of me and I’m really glad about that. 

“But if you think about how big the parliamentary party is in London, and at Holyrood, it would be difficult for Nicola to meet us all and be friends with all of us, she’s got the country to run. 

“So, I’m not complaining that I’m not Nicola’s best mate.”

As the recent legal cases have raised Ms Cherry’s profile, she has been touted as the next SNP leader.

In her interview, she said some of the speculation was whipped up by the media, but did not deny that she wanted to have a significant leadership role and might try to become leader.

That ambition has led to reports she is being encouraged by Mr Salmond as part of his falling out with Ms Sturgeon. 

Breaking from conversation to reading from pre-prepared notes in her interview, Ms Cherry said: “I’d love to play a leadership role in a future independent Scotland, but leadership doesn’t necessarily mean being the leader of the party or being the First Minister.

“There’s lots of leadership roles, and I want to play my part, but no woman should ever write herself off as a potential leader. 

“I’ve worked very hard in my role and I know I’ve got quite a big public profile now and I’m popular with the party membership, but there isn’t a vacancy for an SNP leader. 

"We have a very strong and effective leader and there’s no vacancy. 

“Moreover, the speculation that I will or might challenge is a set-up by journalists. It’s ridiculous. 

“I’m at Westminster, the leader of the SNP must be at Holyrood, because they must be capable of being First Minister, and I have never said I want to be party leader; others have said it and frankly, I wish they wouldn’t, because it just causes me grief I could do without.”

However, she did not deny that she would want the position.

She said: “Some people think I’ve got a big ego, because I don’t say, ‘Oh no, it couldn’t possibly be little old me’. 

“That is what women are expected to do, but if I was a man of my age, with my professional background, people would take it for granted that I might want a leadership role, and I certainly wouldn’t have to apologise for it. 

“So, what I’m saying is, I wouldn’t rule myself out for the future, but there is no leadership vacancy right now and I’m not putting myself forward as a potential leader of the SNP at the moment. 

“Those who are doing so are mentioning my name without my involvement or my permission.”

Scottish Conservative chief whip Maurice Golden said: “It’s clear relations at the top of the SNP are turning sour.

“Perhaps it’s no wonder Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t want to give the time of day to an MP who’s so blatantly pitching for her job.”