SNP's Ash Regan takes swipe at Nicola Sturgeon's husband

‘He’s running the contest to replace his wife’: SNP leadership candidate Ash Regan takes swipe at Nicola Sturgeon’s husband (the party’s chief executive) as she reiterates ‘conflict of interest’ fears in race to become first leader

  • Ash Regan reiterates fears of ‘conflict of interest’ in SNP leadership contest
  • She swipes at role of Nicola Sturgeon’s husband as party’s chief executive 

SNP leadership candidate Ash Regan today reiterated her fears of a ‘conflict of interest’ in the contest to replace Nicola Sturgeon.

The former Scottish Government minister took a swipe at the role of Ms Sturgeon’s husband, Peter Murrell, as the SNP’s chief executive.

‘Effectively he’s running the contest to replace his wife,’ Ms Regan said, as she repeated her demand for an ‘independent third party company’ to oversee the leadership battle.

Ms Regan is up against Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes in the race to succeed Ms Sturgeon as SNP leader and first minister.

The contest has become increasingly bitter with the rivals having made vicious attacks on each other in live TV debates over the past week.

Ash Regan took a swipe at the role of Nicola Sturgeon’s husband, Peter Murrell, as the SNP’s chief executive

Mr Murrell, the husband of outgoing SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, has been accused of ‘effectively running the contest to replace his wife’

Ms Regan is widely viewed as the outsider in the contest, while Mr Yousaf – a close ally of Ms Sturgeon – has been branded the ‘continuity candidate’.

He is also accused of having the SNP’s ‘party machine’ behind him after a string of senior figures pledged their support to his campaign.

Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday show, Ms Regan compared Mr Murrell’s role as SNP chief executive to a situation where Carrie Johnson might have counted the votes in last summer’s Tory leadership contest to replace Boris Johnson.

‘Well effectively he’s running the contest to replace his wife and, if you think about it in a different way, you know that would be like Carrie counting the votes for Boris’s successor,’ she said. 

‘I think many people would think that would be fairly unusual. I think there is a conflict of interest here.

‘My campaign team we’ve set out that we think it should be an independent third party company that should be running the contest and we’ve also asked for there to a neutral observer as well, just to make sure everything is above board.

‘We need to be careful in this too. We’re the largest party in Scotland and the person that wins this contest will not just be leader of the SNP but they’ll also actually become the first minister of the country. This is very significant.

‘It’s very important and it’s important for both the members of the SNP but also the wider country that there’s trust in this process, that it’s all above board and it’s transparent.’

Despite being the outsider in the SNP leadership contest, Ms Regan insisted she was ‘in this competition to win it’.

‘At the moment we understand that a large amount of the membership are still undecided, it is a very short contest,’ she added.

‘But I have had many people get in touch with me recently to say that they think I am the only hope for the SNP.’

Last month, all three of Ms Forbes, Ms Regan and Mr Yousaf were confirmed to have met the threshold to formally enter the leadership race.

About 100,000 SNP members will be able to begin voting for their preferred candidate on March 13.

Voting will then close at noon on March 27 and the result is expected later that day.

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