‘Abuse, threats and smears’: Why Joanna Cherry believes her days as an SNP MP are nearly at an end

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Joanna Cherry  - Andrew Milligan/PA
Joanna Cherry - Andrew Milligan/PA

One of Nicola Sturgeon’s fiercest internal critics believes she will be ousted from parliament after being targeted with “abuse, threats and smears” from within the SNP over her stance on transgender rights.

Joanna Cherry, an MP since 2015, said she suspected “I won't be a member of parliament for much longer” after she won a prestigious award on Thursday night.

The prominent QC has repeatedly raised concerns about Ms Sturgeon’s plans to make it much easier for people to legally change their gender, which critics believe would diminish women’s hard-fought rights and potentially place them in danger.

She has also spoken out against Ms Sturgeon’s leadership style and suggested an unhealthy “cult” was being built up within the SNP around the First Minister.

After being crowned Best Scot at Westminster at Holyrood Magazine’s political awards event, she said in an acceptance speech that she would never have stood for parliament if she had known “the level of abuse, threats, bullying and smears” she would receive “particularly from my own side”.

She added she had “no regrets” about becoming a politician but that “I suspect I won't be a Member of Parliament for much longer”.

Ms Cherry vowed to try to be “an independent and thoughtful voice” while she remained in the Commons and said she would stand up for equal rights and free speech “whether you are a unionist or nationalist”.

It is understood that Ms Cherry does not intend to stand down voluntarily from her Edinburgh South West seat but fears she may be blocked from standing at the next election due to “dirty tricks” from within the SNP.

She had planned to swap Westminster for Holyrood at the last Scottish elections, but abandoned the bid after the SNP changed its rules to make it much harder for MPs to enter the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Cherry believes the rules were deliberately changed to “hobble” her attempts to contest the Edinburgh Central seat, with Sturgeon loyalist Angus Robertson eventually winning the selection contest.

The SNP has been approached for comment.

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