Nicola Sturgeon in jeopardy as MP breaks cover to admit leader's reputation 'tarnished'

Amid the row between Ms Sturgeon and predecessor Alex Salmond, insiders now fear the SNP may be damaged in May’s Holyrood elections. The SNP had been expected to win a majority in the Holyrood elections but following the row between the First Minister and Mr Salmond – who has now launched his own party – insiders believe the polls may now be different. Ahead of the election in May, a SNP MP admitted the public will have seen the political fall out and “rage” between the two officials over the last few weeks.

They told The Daily Telegraph: “Nicola’s brand has been tarnished.

“I think this will have an impact at the polls because people have seen the in-fighting and the rage.”

Not only has one MP acknowledged the chaos within the SNP but former deputy leader of the party, Jim Sillar claimed the public had now seen the true face of the Scottish government.

He added: “People have seen a face of the Scottish government that is unacceptable.

“People are not stupid. They know the government has misbehaved and engaged in a gross misuse of power.”

On Friday, Mr Salmond announced the creation of his new political party, Alba.

The 66-year-old former First Minister announced the pro-independence party in order to build a “supermajority” to push forward with a Scottish referendum.

Mr Salmond said in a statement: “Over the next six weeks we will promote new ideas about taking Scotland forward – giving primacy to economic recovery from the pandemic and the achievement of independence for our country.

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“We expect to field a minimum of four candidates in each regional list and we’re hoping to elect Alba MSPs from every area of Scotland.

“We think building that substantial majority in the Scottish parliament is the key to unlock that question and it’s the key to the way forward.

“If Alba helps – and it is helping because we are not standing on the constituency ballot, we expect that to be dominated by the SNP – but if Alba can help by contributing independence-supporting MSPs and their expertise they’re contributing to the new platform that we’re going to have to build on independence.”

Despite his desire to create a large majority for independence, there is concern within the SNP that Mr Salmond’s party may now split the vote in Holyrood.

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If the SNP won a majority in May’s election, Ms Sturgeon had pledged to hold a referendum on independence later this year.

Regardless of Boris Johnson’s consent to hold a referendum, Ms Sturgeon had claimed the parameters have now changed since the initial referendum in 2014.

Mr Salmond and the First Minister gave evidence to a Holyrood committee over how the SNP handled sexual harassment allegations made against the former leader.

MSPs concluded following the hearing, they did not believe Ms Sturgeon’s timeline of events.

However, an independent inquiry led by Irish barrister James Hamilton cleared Ms Sturgeon and stated the belief she had not broken the ministerial code.

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