SNP leadership candidate Ash Regan reveals she could readmit Alex Salmond into the party if she wins

Alamy Live News. 2NM03N5 North Queensferry, Scotland, UK. 24 February 2023.PICTURED: Ash Regan against the backdrop of the Queensferry Crossing. Ash Regan MSP launches her Leadership Election Campaign for the position of First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP). This comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced earlier last week she is stepping down. Ash Regan MSP (formerly known as Ash Denham, who was Community Safety Minister, joins the election race standing against Kate Forbes MSP and Humza Yousaf MSP. Credit: Colin D Fisher/CDFIMAGES.COM This is an Alamy Live News image and may not be part of your current Alamy deal . If you are unsure, please contact our sales team to check.

SNP leadership hopeful Ash Regan revealed she could sensationally readmit Alex Salmond into the party if she wins the contest.

She’s one of three MSPs seeking to replace Mr Salmond’s ally-turned-enemy Nicola Sturgeon – and has firmly set herself against a series of the current First Minister’s stances.

Ash Regan is running to be the next SNP leader

She said Alex Salmond could rejoin the party

Ms Regan told The Scottish Sun on Sunday she had not spoken to the former Nats leader, 68, since his successor Ms Sturgeon’s shock resignation.

But asked whether she’d readmit Mr Salmond, she said: “If people want to join the SNP they are free to do that.”

Her sensational admission came as she tried to build momentum behind her bid to become First Minister.

She suggested Mr Salmond would be “free” to rejoin the Nats — despite him quitting in 2018 and then leading the hardline pro-indy Alba Party.

But Scots Tories chair Craig Hoy said: “Alex Salmond is a totally discredited figure after his split with the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon amid a brutal personal feud.

“Following that and his shameful appearances on Russia Today, he belongs on the fringes of Scottish politics. It would be weak and desperate of Ash Regan to bring him in from the cold.”

Mr Hoy added: “The SNP leadership contest has shown the people of Scotland just how hopelessly split the party really is.”

Ms Regan is battling her former Cabinet colleagues Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes in the race to secure the keys to Bute House.

But, asked by whether she would readmit him to the SNP, Ms Regan said: “Political parties want to have as many members as possible. If people want to join the SNP, they are free to do that.”

But she added: “I’d assume that, as he has set up his own political party, he’s probably quite happy where he is.”

Mr Salmond left the Nats in 2018 as he fought to clear his name of sexual misconduct allegations.

Speaking at the time, he said: “I truly love the SNP and the wider independence movement in Scotland. They have been the defining commitment of my life.”

He was cleared of 13 charges following a High Court trial in 2020.
Mr Salmond resigned as First Minister in the wake of the 2014 independence referendum loss. He passed the leadership of the party and country onto Ms Sturgeon.

Despite a previous close relationship, the two no longer speak and have been embroiled in a bitter spat since the allegations against Mr Salmond emerged.

Ms Regan’s campaign team inclu-des Kirk Torrance, a former SNP digital supremo who was a defence witness at Mr Salmond’s trial.

He was previously instrumental in the creation of Alba — and stood as a candidate for them in 2021.

Asked about his involvement, Ms Regan said: “Kirk is a professional consultant, he worked internationally and did strategy for three major UK parties, most notably the SNP.

“In a matter of days, I’ve got him from attacking the SNP to fighting for it. It’s all about how you treat people and move forward together.

“This is what we will do across the nation, a stronger SNP.”

And ‘Team Salmond’ sources agreed they’d be favouring Ms Regan for the top job.

She resigned from the Scottish Government over her opposition to Ms Sturgeon’s gender self-ID plans, which Mr Salmond has also raised concerns about. Ms Regan has also urged party members who left over the issue to “please come back”.

And she claimed she has received messages and calls from people who have said they would return if she is elected leader.

At her campaign launch on Friday, Ms Regan blasted the fact Ms Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell is running the contest — insisting it was a “clear conflict of interest”.

Ms Sturgeon is rumoured to favour Humza Yousaf, although she has said she is remaining neutral.

Ms Regan said: “This situation, where you have a party leader who is married to the chief executive of the party, I don’t think we’d accept that in a corporate setting. I don’t think it’s appropriate. I think the fact Peter Murrell is running this contest to replace Nicola Sturgeon is a clear conflict of interest.”

Mhairi Black, the Nats’ deputy Commons leader, threw her backing behind Mr Yousaf.

She said the Health Secretary was the only candidate who’d take the “fight directly to Westminster” over its decision to veto the gender recognition bill passed by Holyrood.

But pressure has continued to build on Mr Yousaf to provide full disclosure about him missing a 2014 vote on same-sex marriage.

It has emerged he may have consulted the Muslim community before claiming he had an “unavoidable” meeting in with Pakistan’s Consul General to discuss a Scot facing execution.

Ex-SNP Health Secretary Alex Neil insisted: “This is not true.”

He alleged “Humza deliberately skipped the vote” after he may have been “put under pressure by mosque leaders of the mosque in Glasgow”.

Meanwhile, the Church of Scotland said it supported Ms Forbes’ right to hold her beliefs, “as we would for anyone else”.

They pointed to the tradition of politicians being able to exercise their conscience on moral issues.

Ms Forbes sparked a backlash by saying she’d have voted against same-sex marriage as it conflicted with her faith as a member of the Free Church of Scotland.

A Kirk spokeswoman said: “We deplore comments which suggest that holding views because of religion, faith or belief would impair her suitability as a candidate for First Minister.”

[email protected]

We pay for your stories and videos! Do you have a story or video for The Scottish Sun? Email us at [email protected] or call 0141 420 5200