Angus MacNeil looks set to be kicked out of the SNP for good.

A senior source told The Herald on Sunday, the veteran MP was in clear breach of the party's rules around making a public resignation. 

That has been disputed by Mr MacNeil and his supporters, who say he never quit his SNP membership but rather refused to rejoin the Westminster group. 

He announced on Wednesday that he would continue to sit as an independent after being suspended for a week following a row with chief whip Brendan O'Hara.

In a lengthy statement, Mr MacNeil said he would only stand as the SNP candidate at the next election if there was "clarity on independence" following October's conference. He accused the leadership of being “utterly clueless.”

He was then formally suspended by the party on Friday, with the SNP Member Conduct Committee due to investigate. 

However, our source said it was unlikely there was anyway back for the outspoken politician.

They also suggested the Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP had jumped before he was pushed.

READ MORE: Angus MacNeil: Nicola Sturgeon silenced colleagues on independence

Mr MacNeil has represented the Western Isles constituency since 2005. 

The seat is a key target for Scottish Labour at the next election.  

They have tasked former Daily Record journalist Torcuil Crichton with overturning the nationalist’s majority of 2,438.

In his letter on Wednesday, Mr MacNeil made clear he would "certainly be standing at the next election in Na h-Eileanan an lar on an independence platform."

That could mean taking on the SNP.

In an interview with The Herald’s Kevin McKenna, Mr Macneil said that if the party stands a candidate against him it would confirm the leadership “were more interested in vendettas and point-scoring than in promoting independence.”

Splitting the vote of Yes supporters would almost certainly guarantee a win for Labour in a constituency with an electorate of just 21,106.

“It feels like Torcuil should have to declare a gift of this size,” one Labour source told The Herald. 

READ MORE: Angus MacNeil will not rejoin SNP until party 'pursues independence'

Asked on Friday about his administrative suspension, Mr MacNeil said: “I did not leave the SNP and I hope the SNP haven’t left me, as that was what went wrong with Labour in Scotland.”

A senior party source disputed that telling The Herald on Sunday: “It seems to me like a very public resignation. So yes it’s a breach of the rules. 

“He appears to give the impression that he is somehow in control of events - when the party is about to embark on internal selections including for sitting MPs. The reality is he’s seen the writing on the wall.”

Supporters of Mr MacNeil point out that he did not resign his membership when he refused to take back the whip in Westminster and that it cannot count as a public resignation.

They also said a public resignation needs to "harm" the party. 

Mr MacNeil himself said he would dispute that it was a public resignation.

However, others have pointed to Margo MacDonald’s decision to stand as an independent in the 2003 Holyrood election despite being a member of the SNP.

That was considered by the then national secretary Stewart Hosie to be a “public resignation.”

In a letter to her, he said: “By intimating your intention, and by consequence to stand against the SNP, I would deem your action to be a public resignation from membership of the Scottish National Party.” 

Selections for the general election - widely expected next year -  are currently taking place and would-be candidates are required to have their applications in before August 21. 

The SNP Member Conduct Committee investigation is unlikely to have concluded before then.

The Herald:

Mr MacNeil's row with Mr O'Hara reportedly centred around the MP missing key votes in the House of Commons, including on one occasion where he was on a trip to Qatar.

The Guido Fawkes blog reported that Mr MacNeil shouted: “You’re a small wee man” several times at Mr O’Hara.

An SNP spokesman said: "Angus MacNeil MP was advised by the SNP National Secretary on Wednesday that she considered him to be in breach of the party's code of conduct by his decision to resign from the SNP Westminster parliamentary group.

"Having acknowledged this, Mr MacNeil did not take up the offer to rejoin the SNP parliamentary group and the matter was, therefore, yesterday referred to the SNP Member Conduct Committee for consideration."

Labour's Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray said “While the nationalists descend further into petty drama and infighting, Labour is focused on booting out the Tories and delivering the change Scotland desperately needs.

"Labour's candidate in the Western Isles is the local champion and strong voice that the island communities deserve. He will be an MP focused on the issues that really matter.

“Scotland deserves better than this divided and scandal-ridden SNP - only Labour can offer a fresh start from SNP and Tory decline.”

READ MORE: Angus MacNeil has SNP membership suspended

Whatever happens at the next election, the SNP’s Westminster group will look very different to how it did in 2019. 

At the party’s recent convention on independence, the second half of the day focused on the next general election. 

Three MPs, Stephen Flynn, Mhairi Black and Stewart Hosie delivered a presentation entitled “A campaign to win.”

In the weeks since both Ms Black and Mr Hosie announced that they will not contest the vote, widely expected next year. 

Ms Black said she was"tired" of "toxic" Westminster, describing it as a "horrible place to be."

At the time of going to print, seven members of the Westminster group have said they will stand down. 

As well as Ms Black and Mr Hosie, former leader Ian Blackford, Doug Chapman, Angela Crawley, John McNally and Peter Grant are all set to hang up their spurs. 

A number of others are expected to follow suit.

MPs have until the end of the month to let National Secretary Lorna Finn know if they will stand again. 

Those who plan on doing so include Alyn Smith, Pete Wishart, David Linden, Chris Law, Allan Dorans, Gavin Newlands, Kirsty Blackman, Martyn Day, Drew Hendry, Anne McLaughlin, and Richard Thomson.

Joanna Cherry, who has had her own battles with the SNP’s leadership, will also seek the nomination to stand again in Edinburgh South West.