Alex Salmond
Membership of the SNP has risen by 5,000 members since it was defeated in the Scotland independence referendum.Reuters

Membership of the Scottish National Party (SNP) has surged by almost 5,000 in the wake of the Scottish independence referendum defeat.

While 55% of voters backed Scotland remaining a part of the UK, the referendum sparked a massive debate and a renewed interest in politics for many.

Notably, the independence referendum recorded the highest ever turnout in any UK ballot, at almost 85% of Scotland's population.

SNP business convener Derek Mackay said on Saturday that many of those who had signed up to the party since the results of the referendum were announced would be new to politics and would "continue the legacy of the referendum, and the amazing level of engagement we saw".

The party claims its membership now stands at almost 30,500, a rise of 4,884 – 22% more members – since Thursday.

Mackay said: "Seeing our membership spike by nearly 5,000 is incredibly encouraging."

"Some will no doubt be coming from Labour, whose traditional heartlands were voting 'Yes' on Thursday – but many will be new to politics, and they will continue the legacy of the referendum, and the amazing level of engagement we saw."

The news comes a day after Alex Salmond announced he would be standing down as both Scotland's First Minster and Scottish National Party leader.