Mhairi Black hits back at Alex Salmond over 'below the belt' intervention in SNP leadership race
The SNP's deputy leader in the House of Commons has accused a former party leader of "below the belt politics".
Mhairi Black told Sky News that Alex Salmond's intervention in the SNP's leadership contest was "unfortunate and predictable".
Mr Salmond, who is now leader of the Alba party, told Beth Rigby Interviews on Thursday that leadership hopeful Humza Yousaf had skipped a vote on gay marriage due to "religious pressure".
Mr Yousaf, who was present in the first vote, told Sky News that his absence from the second vote was being "dragged up" for political reasons.
Mhairi Black was addressing Plaid Cymru's spring conference in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, on Friday, and insisted that Mr Yousaf "has never once faltered in standing up" for people from LGBT+ communities.
"He supported equal marriage in the first vote, and he was doing his ministerial role in the second vote," said Ms Black.
"I have absolutely no doubt of Humza's commitment to progressive policies and to ensuring that people's rights are not only protected but enhanced at every opportunity.
"My gut instinct is that this is just below the belt politics happening just now, 'cause obviously Alex Salmond is backing another horse in our race," she added.
Mr Salmond, a former first minister of Scotland, said he had no "dog in the race" and that he had been "very reluctant" to get involved in the SNP's leadership contest.
When put to her that Mr Salmond did not have a stake in the leadership contest, Ms Black said that it was "nonsense", and that people could "read between the lines for themselves".
The MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South said that she was "heartened" by "respectful, very calm" debates at leadership hustings in Cumbernauld.
On the divisiveness of the leadership election so far, Ms Black said that it had not been "as bad as some in the media and other political parties are making out".
"Don't get me wrong, we definitely have our challenges, but I think this idea that everything is divided, that's going to change, that won't hold true," she said.
Yousaf's absence from key vote on gay marriage being 'dragged up for political reasons'
Forbes 'burdened' by hurt caused by religious views but fights on in race
While not ruling out running for leader of her party in future leadership elections, Ms Black said that she was "happy" in her current role.
She said: "I can't tell you what I'm doing next week, never mind in the future. So no, I'm quite happy in my role just now."