THE two former SNP MPs who have defected to Alex Salmond’s new Alba Party are facing growing calls to stand down from their current seats.

Former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and the SNP’s former Covid vaccine spokesman Neal Hanvey announced they were switching parties over the weekend.

Both were elected to Westminster for the first time at the 2019 general election.

Mr MacAskill was elected on an SNP ticket in East Lothian, while Mr Hanvey was technically elected as an Independent in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, although he appeared as an SNP candidate on the ballot.

READ MORE: Neale Hanvey MP quits SNP to join Alex Salmond's Alba Party

Mr Hanvey had been an SNP-endorsed candidate, was suspended late in the campaign over an anti-Semitic social media post, elected as an Independent, then admitted to the SNP at Westminster after apologising and agreeing to an education course at a Holocaust centre.

Both MPs intend to remain at Westminster and stand on the regional list for Holyrood, becoming so-called “dual mandate” parliamentarians if elected in May.

On Sky's Ridge on Sunday, Mr MacAskill said: “I’ll be doing what has been done before.

“At the outset of the Scottish Parliament, Donald Dewar and Labour MPs exercised a dual mandate.

“During the Parliament I served in, Alex Salmond and indeed John Swinney, the deputy first minister of the Scottish Parliament, stood on a dual mandate and represented both Westminster and Holyrood.

“So I’ll be seeking to represent Holyrood as well as containing and continuing to serve my constituents in East Lothian.”

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has said he also intends to be an MP and MSP.

However Scottish Labour, who now have fewer MPs than Alba, said Mr MacAskill and Mr Hanvey should quit and allow voters to choose who they wanted as their MP.

Scottish Labour campaign co-chair Neil Bibby said: "The defection of the controversial Neale Hanvey to the Alba Party reveals the utter disarray that the SNP is in.

"Scotland deserves so much better than this politics of grudge, personality and ego.

“Neale Hanvey and Kenny MacAskill must both stand down and give their constituents the chance to elect politicians more interested in guaranteeing Scotland's recovery than endlessly refighting yesterday's war.

"It’s all too clear that only Scottish Labour is focused on our national recovery from the pandemic.

"Scottish Labour will relentlessly focus on delivering a national recovery plan so we can build a fairer and stronger Scotland together and on putting the national interest before the nationalist interest."

READ MORE: The SNP say Alex Salmond's unfit for office, but that doesn't mean people won't vote for him 

Mr Ross said: "Sturgeon and Salmond may now despise each other but they are united by their obsessive determination to rip Scotland out of the United Kingdom.

"All focus should be on the pandemic and our recovery but Sturgeon's SNP and Salmond's ultra-nationalists want this election to be another divisive fight about the constitution.

"That is why I am urging Labour and the Lib Dems to work with the Scottish Conservatives just as we did in 2014.

"With the very real threat of a so-called Nationalist 'super majority', pro-union parties cannot sit on the fence and continuing to do so would be naive in the extreme."

In a furious statement after Mr MacAskill defected yesterday, SNP Westminster Ian Blackford also urged him to stand down and trigger a byelection.

He said Mr MacAskill had “been an increasing embarrassment to many in the SNP and his departure is somewhat of a relief”

He said: “That he is joining a party with serious questions to answer about its leader's suitability for public office is no surprise. He should now resign his seat in the House of Commons to let a by-election take place immediately so the people of East Lothian can elect a new MP who will focus on their interests, rather than self-interest."

Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign chair Alistair Carmichael MP added: "Like paint chipping off an old and decaying wall, Neale Hanvey's defection is the latest episode in the nationalist's bitter, twisted and divided civil war.

"People can reject the old arguments by backing Willie Rennie’s Liberal Democrats. We will put recovery first and focus on jobs, mental health, our NHS, schools and the climate crisis.”