The SNP's Philippa Whitford has announced that she will not stand at the next general election.

Her decision not to put herself forward for re-election means the party is now losing more than a fifth of its Westminster group.

The surgeon, who represents Central Ayrshire, is the eighth SNP MP to stand down. 

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In a statement, Dr Whitford said: “It has been an honour to serve as the MP for the people of Central Ayrshire for the last eight years and to have been their choice in three elections.

“However, I will not be seeking re-election at the next Westminster election.

“At the time of that election, I will have been an MP for nine years and, including my time as an NHS surgeon, spent 42 years in working in public service.”

The 64-year-old, who was first elected in 2015, said she looked forward to spending more time with family. 

“In particular, I look forward to spending more time with my husband, Hans, who is already retired and I want to thank him for the unconditional support he has given me since my election."

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Dr Whitford said the job had changed over the last eight years, "especially after Boris Johnson became prime minister and aggression and contempt towards SNP MPs, and indeed Scotland, became the norm."

She added: “While he has gone, his toxic legacy remains and only time will tell if this changes after the next election.

“While working away from home in such a negative atmosphere is challenging, there are many rewarding aspects to the job, particularly the satisfaction of helping individual constituents or working with the many fantastic local groups who do so much to improve our communities.”

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said: "I would like to put on record my thanks to Dr Philippa Whitford for her immense contribution to the SNP over the last 8 years.

"However, having served the general public for more than 40 years - both as an MP and NHS surgeon - nobody deserves a break more.

"I have no doubt that Dr Philippa will continue to be a monumental figure within the Yes movement, as we continue our journey towards independence."

Other MPs standing down include Mhairi Black, Stewart Hosie, former leader Ian Blackford, Doug Chapman, Angela Crawley, John McNally and Peter Grant.

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, Tommy Sheppard 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