MP Michelle Thomson will not contest Edinburgh West seat

Severin Carrell Scotland editor
Michelle Thomson has sat as an independent MP in the Commons since she resigned the SNP whip in late 2015. Photograph: PA

Michelle Thomson, a former SNP MP now sitting as an independent, has been barred from standing for the party in the general election due to an unresolved legal case.

Thomson announced on Saturday she would not contest her Edinburgh West seat after the SNP’s national executive said she was ineligible.

Thomson was one of the stars among the party’s 50 MPs who won seats in its 2015 landslide, and was a leading figure in the pro-independence Business for Scotland campaign group.

Thomson, who denies any wrongdoing, has been part of a police investigation into alleged property and mortgage frauds that led her to voluntarily resign the SNP whip in late 2015. She has not been charged with any offence but prosecutors are studying a report from police.

Meanwhile, the SNP’s governing committee has ruled out any coalition between SNP and Conservative councillors in Scottish councils after the 4 May local government elections.

The vote came after Nicola Sturgeon failed to forbid SNP councillors from forming local pacts when she launched the SNP’s local election manifesto on Friday.

After the 2012 council elections, the SNP formed power-sharing coalitions with the Tories in two councils: Dumfries and Galloway, and East Ayrshire.

In a statement after the party meeting, Sturgeon said: “If the Tories seize control of our communities that means deeper cuts to services, fewer affordable homes and more cruel austerity measures that we know are pushing families into poverty.”

In a further sign that Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election has caught the party by surprise, the SNP said it needed another week to find candidates for Thomson’s former seat and four other Scottish constituencies not held by the SNP.

Another former SNP MP, Natalie McGarry, has also been barred from standing again for the party in Glasgow East after being charged with fraud. She has also been sitting as an independent in the Commons.

The SNP won all but three of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats in 2015; all other 54 sitting MPs have been reselected automatically.

Thomson said: “At 10.26 this morning I was called from the ongoing SNP NEC meeting to be told a selection process for Edinburgh West would happen and that I would not be eligible to stand for selection.

“I am very disappointed with the decisions of the SNP. I am grateful to both elected officials and local branch members who contacted me in recent days to say they had lobbied the NEC on my behalf.”

The Scottish Labour party announced it too would have its candidates in place next week, after receiving 150 applications from would-be MPs, using the same fast-track procedures introduced by the UK party in English seats.

Scottish Labour’s selection task is far more arduous, however. With only one sitting MP in Ian Murray in Edinburgh South, and with its poll standing at 14%, it has to find 58 candidates in the slim hope it can win more seats.

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