JOANNA Cherry has described the SNP as “intellectually dead from the neck up” and admitted it is sometimes hard for her to remain a member of it.

She also said there had been an "intellectual failure" to grapple with the big questions surrounding independence.

The outspoken MP and KC made the comments on the Holyrood Sources podcast after becoming embroiled in a freedom of speech row this week.

She had been due to speak at an “In Conversation” event at the Stand Comedy Club at the Edinburgh Fringe, but a backlash by the venue’s staff led to it being cancelled.

The Stand, which is ultimately owned by SNP MP Tommy Sheppard, said key staff, including management and box office personnel, were “unwilling to work on this event”.

Ms Cherry’s supporters say she is being discriminated against because of her views on women’s rights and opposition to the Scottish Government’s gender reforms.

The Edinburgh South West MP, a lesbian who vehemently denies being transphobic, has been supported by author JK Rowling, who called her treatment “modern McCarthyism”.

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Humza Yousaf today said he hoped Ms Cherry’s show would go ahead.

He said: “I hope there’s a way that there will be a compromise found.

"I have a difference on a number of issues [with her], including the GRR [Gender Recognition Reform] Bill that was passed by the Scottish Parliament, but I do think it’s important that those views are heard.”

However Mr Yousaf may be less favourably disposed towards her after hearing her podcast.

In it, she talks about the opposition she had faced within the party over her views.

She said: “I'll not tell a lie, a lot of people have gone out of their way to make me feel like I don't belong. 

“There are many elements of the way in which some people in the SNP behave now, which I don't think belongs to the SNP tradition. 

“People forget that the SNP was founded in the 1930s by intellectuals, artists, poets, thinkers, former diplomats like Compton Mackenzie - people with a rich hinterland. 

“And I think there's an awful lot of people in the SNP just now who don't like debate, are afraid of debate and hostile to it and very insecure in their beliefs. 

“Sometimes it's hard for me to remain a member of the SNP.

"But I'm absolutely determined to do that because I think a small cohort of people have gone out of their way to try and make it as difficult for me to stay as possible, and I feel that I've sort of outlived those.

"I'm looking forward to a different sort of future as we move away from the years of a very closed, inward-looking leadership [under Nicola Sturgeon] and get back to having a more collegiate style of leadership, which I'm hoping will happen under Humza [Yousaf]."

Ms Cherry backed third-placed Ash Regan in the SNP leadership contest.

Expanding on a lack of debate in the party, she said: "There is a bit of a connection between our problems on domestic policy and our failure to answer these big questions on independence. It's a sort of intellectual failure. 

“The party's intellectually dead from the neck up at the moment. It has not been allowed to have an intellectual debate for years. It's been frowned upon, rubbished, marginalised."

Asked if she would one day be an MSP - and therefore a possible SNP leader - she said: “Yes.”

SNP culture secretary Angus Robertson, who won a bitter fight against Mr Cherry to secure a Holyrood candidacy in 2020, refused to comment on the Stand row this week, citing a possible live legal dispute.

Ms Cherry tweeted there was no live legal action and “therefore nothing except perhaps cowardice to prevent any politician from commenting”.