A rebel MP who branded the SNP “utterly clueless” over its independence strategy is facing expulsion at a hearing this week that his allies have reportedly called a “kangaroo court”.

Angus Brendan MacNeil was due to appear in front of the SNP's conduct committee after having been suspended after a bust-up with the party’s chief whip in the House of Commons voting lobby.

It had been reported that the meeting was to take place today. But it is now understood it will be tomorrow. The MP is not expected to attend.

The MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar had the whip removed for a week after the public row with Brendan O’Hara and was then suspended after refusing to rejoin the party’s Westminster group.

While Mr MacNeil, who has been an MP since 2005, risks losing his party membership of 30 years if the committee finds against him, it is not yet known whether he has any intention of remaining in the SNP.

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A close colleague told the Times last weekend: “Rather than take action against MacNeil, they would be better employed focusing on campaigning for independence. Any action against him will only make matters worse for the SNP in winning support.”

The source added that Michael Russell, the SNP president, had prejudiced the case against MacNeil. 

Mr Russell criticised Mr MacNeil in a recent article in The National. He wrote: “I utterly disagree with Angus Brendan MacNeil’s analysis and actions this past week.

“Attacking your fellow party members, holding a gun to their head about some action that you want the entire membership to take no matter their own views and parading contempt for your colleagues as a ‘clueless’ leadership will not bring us an inch nearer independence.

“Instead, it gives our enemies — the word is far from inappropriate these days — a perfect opportunity to pile on the venomous attacks, quoting MacNeil with glee and that is just what they have done. Given the times we are in, it will in fact give Labour seats at Westminster whilst letting the Tories off the hook at Holyrood.”

Mr MacNeil’s friends told the paper that the party president’s intervention would influence officials to prejudge the case.

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The MP has been an outspoken critic of the SNP leadership. He claimed that it had been playing “tricks” on members for years and continually “kicking the can down the road”.

Whatever the outcome of the hearing, Mr MacNeil is unlikely to contest the general election as an SNP candidate.

He has pledged to stand again regardless of his party affiliation but has denied that he intends to join Alex Salmond’s Alba Party.

Standing as an independent for his present seat risks splitting the independence vote.

Scottish Labour is already mounting a strong challenge in the Western Isles, and has selected a well known figure as their candidate in the islands — Torcuil Crichton, the former Daily Record Westminster editor.

Mr MacNeil has said that he would sit as an independent MP until at least October.
He is one the longest-serving SNP MPs; he was elected to parliament in 2005, and is chairman of the energy security and net zero committee.

The SNP said it was making no comment, although previously party sources insisted he was in clear breach of the party’s rules about making a public resignation.

Last month First Minister Humza Yousaf said it was not for Mr MacNeil to decide 'whether he rejoins the SNP group or not'. He added: "He was elected as an SNP MP by his constituents. To me, it is not acceptable that he decides not to join the SNP group.'

Mr Yousaf said a decision is also likely after summer about whether MSP Fergus Ewing will have the whip removed for voting with opponents.