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The SNP’s John McNally today became the party’s seventh MP to reveal he would be standing down from Westminster at the general election, expected next year.

Mr McNally said he would not be putting his name forward for the contest having first been elected as the MP for Falkirk back in 2015.

His announcement is not expected to be the last with reports suggesting party colleague Philippa Whitford, who represents Central Ayrshire, may also be ready to stand down in 2024.

But the statement this morning from the former barber prompted questions about why so many SNP MPs are deciding to leave the green benches of SW1.

Amid the long running police investigation into their party finances, public arguments among the group (which last week saw Angus MacNeil suspended for a week from the party by Westminster leader Stephen Flynn after a row with chief whip Brendan O'Hara) and polls suggesting rising support for Labour, there is the suspicion that some in Humza Yousaf's party may have decided to go before they are pushed out by voters.

That's certainly the reasoning among the SNP's political opponents.

“From public rows bubbling up within the Westminster SNP group to the ongoing investigations into their party’s finances, it is no surprise that so many MPs are choosing to call it a day,” said Scottish Liberal Democrat deputy leader Wendy Chamberlain.

“It seems inevitable that there will be more nationalist MPs announcing they are stepping down in the weeks ahead.

“It’s hard to see how they can claim to be representing Scottish interests when they are spending this much time at daggers drawn.”

Scottish Conservative Chairman Craig Hoy added: “The growing list of SNP MPs stepping down is a damning verdict on the failing leadership of Humza Yousaf and Stephen Flynn.

“Chaos is engulfing the SNP and they are fighting like Nats in a sack. Only last week one of their longest serving MPs lost the whip after accusing his chief whip of bullying.

“The public won’t be fooled by the spin as these MPs announce their intention to stand down at the next election.”

Of course, each of the individuals – Mr McNally is being joined by Mhairi Black, Ian Blackford, Peter Grant, Stewart Hosie, Douglas Chapman and Angela Crawley – have given their own reasons for announcing their future departure from the Westminster stage.

Mr McNally, who is 72, told the Falkirk Herald (good to see the MP supporting his local newspaper) that his wife Sandra had retired and he wanted to spend more time with her.

The Herald: John McNally became the seventh SNP MP to announce their standing down at the next general electionJohn McNally became the seventh SNP MP to announce their standing down at the next general election (Image: Newsquest)

He said: “Travelling from the constituency to London every week takes its toll and not just on the politician but also their families. Even when you return on a Friday there are lots of meetings with people in the constituency and it is difficult to unwind. My wife Sandra has retired now and it's right that I spend more time with her.”

At the other side of the age spectrum, Ms Black, 28, also cited pressure of work on family for her decision, though she mostly blamed a “toxic" culture at Westminster when she spoke to LBC.

Her comments certainly raised eyebrows among some in the SNP's Westminster group where it's safe to say not everyone is a fan of the Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP.

“I thought she was more likely to have created a toxic atmosphere than been the subject of it,” said one source not fully convinced about Ms Black's reasons.

The insider noted an article last weekend in The Spectator that found Ms Black's record of taking part in parliamentary debates did not appear too arduous over her eight year shift.

“She's hardly ever there,” the insider added rather incredulously.

While the SNP MPs' reasons for standing down next year may indeed be varied and, in some cases a tad unclear, the reason behind the timing for the announcements is more certain.

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Back in April, the SNP's ruling body, the national executive committee, drew up a timetable for the selection of candidates for the general election.

Under that process nominations open today and close on July 31 allowing prospective applicants to know where there’s a vacancy for a SNP MP.

Local party members then vote next month in the internal contest to select who becomes the new SNP general election candidates.

Ideally, the party should see a rush of ambitious activists throw their hats into the ring to be chosen as the party's hopefuls for seats such as Falkirk and Paisley and Renfrewshire South.

However, there is some concern it may...

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