SEVERAL of Joanna Cherry's closest allies have demanded the SNP overturn their decision that led to her dropping out of the Holyrood race.

The SNP MP announced she was withdrawing from the contest to represent the Edinburgh Central seat in the 2021 elections after the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) changed the rules, meaning she would have to stand down as an MP in order to do so.

Now more than a dozen of the party's MPs have written to the managing body urging them to change the decision, including allies of Ms Cherry.

The 13 MPs who have signed the letter, sent this morning, are Neale Hanvey, Kenny MacAskill, Angus MacNeil, Douglas Chapman, Ronnie Cowan, Martyn Day, Allan Dorrans, Carol Monaghan, Tommy Sheppard, Chris Stephens, Richard Thomson, Steven Bonnar and John McNally.

The letter states: "We, the undersigned MPs, are writing to question the recent NEC decision regarding dual mandates which currently appears to only apply to MPs.

“There are several arguments against this policy but there is a danger that giving up a Westminster constituency in advance of the Holyrood election could appear complacent and arrogant to the electorate, thus risking the loss of both seats.
"We therefore ask that the decision, which emerged from the last NEC meeting, be reversed without delay." 

The move comes amid a growing row over the decision taken by the party's ruling executive last month. 

Read more: SNP MP Cherry quits race for Holyrood

It was seen by some as a deliberate attempt to stop Ms Cherry, currently SNP MP for Edinburgh South West, from seeking the party's nomination for the Edinburgh Central seat. 

Blows were traded between Ms Cherry and Angus Robertson, former SNP Westminster Leader and party depute, in the run up to the decision as Mr Robertson is also seeking candidacy for the seat.

HeraldScotland: Angus Robertson Byline Photo
While some thought Ms Cherry's withdrawal would effectively hand Mr Robertson the spot, Marco Biagi, who held the seat between 2011 and 2016, has since announced he will also be competing for the nomination. 

The seat is currently held by Ruth Davidson,  former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, who has been appointed to the House of Lords and previosuly announced her intention to quit Holyrood at the next election.