THE SNP'S second in command at Westminster has quit her leadership role after speaking openly about the impact of the lockdown on her mental health.

Kirsty Blackman will  continue to represent her Aberdeen North constituents, but will step back from supporting Ian Blackford at Westminster.

Speculation has mounted that Ms Blackman is eyeing up a seat at next year's Holyrood election – but she has indicated that she wants to prioritise her family and her constituents.

A number of high profile SNP MPs have been linked with chasing a seat at Holyrood ahead of next year's Scottish Parliament election.

But SNP leaders are reportedly examining the possibility of changing rules to stop politicians sitting in both parliaments.

She said: “I'm proud of what I've achieved as SNP Westminster Deputy Leader over the past three years.

“Together with our team of SNP MPs we have provided a strong voice for Scotland at a challenging time, won a landslide victory at the general election, and seen support for independence rise to record levels.”

She added: "Like many others, I've struggled with the impact that lockdown has had on my mental health.

“In order to prioritise my constituency and my family, I have made the difficult personal decision to step down from my leadership role.

“I strongly believe that people must be able to talk openly about mental health issues, which affect so many of us. I look forward to continuing my work for Aberdeen North and standing up for Scotland at Westminster."

In 2016, the 34-year-old was reprimanded by House of Commons officials after bringing her children into a committee meeting – while she has criticised Westminster for its lack of adaptation in becoming child-friendly. 

SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford paid thanks to Ms Blackman.

He said: "I want to express my thanks and gratitude to Kirsty for her three years as SNP Westminster Deputy Leader. It has been a pleasure to work together, she has been a valued colleague and friend.

“She has made an important contribution to our work standing up for Scotland at Westminster and making the case for independence. I respect her decision to put her constituents and family first - and know she will continue to play a key role in the SNP team as the MP for Aberdeen North."

Ms Blackman was first elected to Westminster in 2015, holding her seat in 2017 and again last year.

She has been open about mental health in the past, tweeting in 2017 that "talking about depression is hard".

She added: "I’m lucky that I managed to get through the worst times of my depression and got help and had support."