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Ian Blackford hints at move to Holyrood after leaving Westminster

The former SNP Westminster leader, who is leaving the Commons at the  next general election, said he was not “the kind of person that’s suited to retirement”.

He added: “There’s still a bit of life in the old dog yet.”

If he made the switch and the SNP stayed in power after the 2026 Holyrood election, Mr Blackford would be well placed to serve in cabinet and seen as a potential first minister. 

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The 62-year-old former financier made the comments at an event hosted by the UK in a Changing Europe thinktank.

Asked by director Anand Menon if he had ruled out standing for Holyrood, Mr Blackford joked: “I’m still a young man.”

Referring to his recent paper on a green industrial strategy for Scotland, he went on: “If I’m focused on anything it’s about making sure that the Scottish Government can deliver. 

“So I suppose there is a question for me – how can I best help? 

“I was given the role of Nicola Sturgeon’s [SNP] business ambassador when I stood down as Westminster leader. Humza [Yousaf] has reappointed me to that post. 

“I will wait to see how the [Scottish] Government responds to… the paper, but I think in one way or the other I’ll assist the Government in the delivery of its economic programme. 

“So does that mean I’m elected, does it mean I’m not elected?

“I’m open minded about these things. There’s lots of things I can do.” 

Put to him that he didn’t sound like someone who was “done with politics”, Mr Blackford said: ”I was lucky. I had a career in the City. 

“I left the City in 2003 when I was in my early 40s. I had effectively retired. 

“I set up my own consultancy business and then wound that down just before doing this.

“I don’t think I’m the kind of person that’s suited to retirement, if I may put it that way. There’s still a bit of life in the old dog yet.”

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Mr Blackford has been the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber since 2015. 

The equivalent Holyrood seat is held by Kate Forbes, the runner-up in the SNP leadership contest, who is seen as a possible head of the party.

Mr Blackford’s predecessor as SNP Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, switched to Holyrood in 2021 after losing his Moray seat in 2017 and is now in the cabinet as Constitution Secretary.

Former MP Neil Gray also swapped Westminster for Holyrood in 2021 and is now the Wellbeing Economy Secretary. 

Mr Blackford was ousted as SNP Westminster leader last year by Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn.

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