TWO regional MSPs have quit the SNP to become independents - due to the party's pro-Nato stance.
John Finnie and Jean Urquhart described their decisions as "heart-wrenching" at a press conference in Eden Court Theatre this morning.
Their announcement follows the SNP conference in Perth at the weekend, where delegates voted to be part of NATO if the country becomes independent following the referendum in 2014 - going against the party's long stance against joining the alliance.
Their decisions may surprise many city voters, especially because Mr Finnie was the former leader of the SNP group on Highland Council, when he represented Inverness Ness-side, prior to becoming an MSP.
“I understand that there are those who wish to stay within the SNP and to continue to fight our corner in this essential debate, and I accept their reasons for doing so," Mr Finnie said.
“However, I cannot continue to belong to a party that quite rightly does not wish to hold nuclear weapons on its soil, but wants to join a first strike nuclear alliance.
“Although I envisage that I will continue to share common ground with the SNP on many issues, I cannot in good conscience continue to take the party whip.”
Ms Urquhart added: “The issue of nuclear disarmament and removing Trident from Scotland’s waters is a red line issue for me and I could not remain committed to a party that has committed itself to retaining membership of NATO.
“We are both steadfast in our belief that Scotland should be an independent country and will actively and positively campaign for a Yes vote in 2014.
“We believe in an independent Scotland, not a NATO-dependent Scotland.
“John and I will continue to work with MSPs across the chamber for a fairer and more peaceful Scotland.
“Importantly, we look forward to continuing to represent the residents of the Highlands and Islands as we have done since May 2011.”
> See Friday's Courier for more.