The SNP’s deputy leader at Westminster has warned that Kate Forbes becoming the next first minister could risk splitting the SNP.

Mhairi Black responded to anger last month when Ms Forbes, Nicola Sturgeon’s current Finance and Economy Secretary, said she would not have supported equal marriage, adding that having children outside of marriage was “wrong”.

At the time, Ms Black said that Ms Forbes’ views had alienated swathes of the population" and put the independence cause at risk.

Read more: Mhairi Black in scathing attack on Kate Forbes' equal rights comments

But now, she has raised concerns that Ms Forbes clinching the SNP leadership battle could split the party.

Speaking on The Bunker podcast, the Paisley MP insisted that Ms Forbes’ views on social issues have been “damaging” for the party.

Asked if Ms Forbes becoming SNP leader would split the party, she said: “Honestly I don’t know, to tell you the truth.

“It’s very much a wait and see what happens. I wouldn’t even want to risk that, that’s why I’m backing Humza.

Read more: SNP politicians drop Kate Forbes support after gay rights opposition

“I think he’s the best person to be able to band folk together again.”

Ms Black’s intervention comes after a poll for Channel 4 ahead of it hosting tonight’s SNP leadership debate, puts Ms Forbes eight points ahead of Mr Yousaf with the Scottish public.

The poll of more than 1,500 Scottish voters, conducted on Monday and Tuesday this week, was released ahead of the second televised hustings this evening.

It showed almost one in three of the public (32 per cent) placing Kate Forbes as the best first minister of the three prospective candidates.

Of those polled, 24% put Mr Yousaf as the best First Minister, with Ash Regan at 8%.

Read more: Forbes most popular candidate in SNP leadership race with the public

Ms Black has previously torn into Ms Forbes’ view on equal marriage, accusing the Finance Secretary of leaving her personally feeling “incredibly hurt”.

The SNP’s deputy leader at Westminster said that claims made by Ms Forbes she was being “persecuted” or there is a “plot against her” was “utterly fanciful at best and a dangerous conspiracy theory at worst”.

Ms Black added: “Kate hasn’t just jeopardised a lot of activists and members, she has alienated swathes of the population before she’s even started.

“We need and should expect, better judgement, communication, and leadership skills if we are to ever convince others of independence.”