Humza Yousaf will today meet SNP MPs amid fears the party may not be able to meet a deadline to get its Westminster accounts signed off by an auditor.

The First Minister, who is on a two day visit to London, has said it will be "challenging" to arrange an auditor to process the SNP's books by May 31.

Mr Yousaf's comments come after Stephen Flynn MP, the head of the SNP's Westminster group, warned yesterday it could miss out on more than £1 million if it fails to file accounts by the end of May.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Yousaf said he is "going to work towards meeting the deadline" but stressed: "It'll be challenging. I won't pretend otherwise.

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"There is the ability to ask for an extension if required. We're not in that space yet."

On Monday Mr Flynn, who leads the SNP in the House of Commons, said the party is doing "everything possible" to meet the deadline, but finding auditors for the group is proving difficult.

Mr Fynn replaced Ian Blackford as the Westminster leader in December but told the BBC he only found out via email on February 10 that Johnston Carmichael, who had worked with the SNP for more than a decade, had quit as auditors in September last year.

Mr Blackford insists his team handed over all the relevant information, including financial information to Mr Flynn’s new MP leadership team in December.

Mr Flynn said “there may well have been discussions between other people” but reiterated that he was only fully informed of the situation almost three months after taking up the post.

Meanwhile, it is being reported that SNP MPs have been told to increase the amount that they pay into central funds amid warnings from Mr Flynn that staff jobs are under threat because the party sdoes not have an auditor.

Last week, he told a meeting of SNP MPs that their annual contribution to pooled funding, which pays for central research staff, would increase by 3 per cent to £11,893.75.

Unlike at Holyrood, where MSPs pay 6 per cent of the money they are given to employ office staff to a central pot, the Westminster group’s standing orders only say that all MPs should contribute equally to pay for researchers and press officers “at a level set by the group”.

Separate accounts need to be submitted for the Westminster group by May 31 in order to receive "Short money" - public funding for opposition parties to carry out their parliamentary work.

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The SNP as a whole is also lacking auditors, meaning the Electoral Commission could take action if accounts are not submitted on time.

It comes amid an ongoing police investigation into the SNP's finances, which saw former chief executive Peter Murrell and treasurer Colin Beattie arrested earlier this month. Both men were released without charge pending further inquiry.

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Mr Flynn was asked about the Westminster group's difficulty in finding auditors as he appeared on the Good Morning Scotland radio programme yesterday.

He said: "I thought it would be a relatively straightforward process to go and secure new auditors. That's obviously proven not to be the case."

This is partly due to the fact that the financial year is nearing its end, as well as the overall challenges in the party's finances, he said.

He continued: "We need to have our accounts for Short money in place by May 31, I believe.

"So every effort that can be made to ensure that happens is being made and, of course, we're in contact with the House of Commons authorities meantime in relation to it."

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He said he understands the SNP will miss out on around £1.2 million in Short money if accounts are not submitted by the deadline, describing it as a "situation which is in a state of flux".

Mr Flynn continued: "I wouldn't want to incur any concern amongst staff that we aren't going to be able to meet our deadlines.

"We're doing everything possible to ensure that that is the case."

The First Minister yesterday met with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak when he again asked for powers to be transferred to Holyrood to hold a second independence referendum. Mr Sunak refused the request.

Mr Yousaf also met with the London mayor Sadiq Khan and the EU ambassador to the UK Pedro Serrano on Monday.