THE SNP MSP Gail Ross is to step down at the Holyrood election after a single-term.

The popular MSP for Caithness, Sutherland & Ross said she was leaving for family reasons.

Ms Ross, 42, a former Highland councillor who came to Holyrood in 2016, said the demands of travelling from her constituency to Edinburgh had been a factor.

READ MORE: SNP MSP James Dornan announces plan to stand down

She said MSPs should be able to attend committees via video link and vote online from their constituencies - ideas also floated by Holyrood’s former top official Sir Paul Grice.

Often tipped for promotion, but never a minister, Ms Ross had a majority of 3,913 over the LibDems in her seat.

She was rumoured to be facing an internal selection battle in Caithness from Highlands & Islands list MSP Maree Todd, the minister for children and young people.

Ms Ross is the fourth SNP MSP to announce her exit in 2021.

Bruce Crawford in Stirling, James Dornan in Glasgow Cathcart, and Richard Lyle in Uddingston & Bellshill are also leaving next year.

Ms Ross said: “The decision has been reached due to the demands of travelling to Edinburgh and being away from home for sometimes five days a week, every week.

“I want to be able to spend more time with my family, to watch my son grow up and to be more involved in local issues, things I cannot presently do.

“The sheer size of the area I represent also means that I am having difficulty in reaching every part of the constituency on a regular basis and I am not able to represent my constituents in the way they deserve and rightly expect.

“I recently asked the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee to ask if there is any possibility that members could video in to meetings and remote vote.

“If we are to encourage into politics more young people with families who live far away from Edinburgh, this has to be considered.

“It has not been an easy decision to make and I wish to sincerely thank everyone who has supported me in my journey through council and then parliament.

“It has been a huge privilege to represent the place where I grew up and although the job has sometimes been very challenging, these years have been some of the most rewarding of my professional career.

READ MORE: Ruth Davidson confirms she will leave Holyrood at 2021 election

“My drive for independence is stronger than ever and I will continue work to make sure that all families can grow and prosper in an independent Scotland.”

Ms Ross has been Deputy Convener of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, and is currently Deputy Convener of the Petitions Committee, Convener of the Cross Party Group on the Prevention and Healing of Adverse Childhood Experiences, Co-convener of the Cross Party Group on Food and a member of the Education and Skills Committee.

Tory MSPs Ruth Davidson, Peter Chapman and Margaret Mitchell are also stepping down at the election.