Yousaf to campaign in Ferrier's constituency which could face by-election

The SNP leader will be in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency on Saturday.

First Minister Humza Yousaf to campaign in Margaret Ferrier’s constituency ahead of possible by-election Scottish Government/STV

First Minister Humza Yousaf will set out his “positive, ambitious and radical vision” as he campaigns in an area where the SNP could face a by-election.

The SNP leader will be in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency on Saturday, where there is the potential for a recall petition to be used against sitting MP Margaret Ferrier.

Yousaf, who has already said it will take “hard work” for the SNP to win a by-election in the seat, is heading to the area for his party’s first national day of action for 2023.

It comes after he promised he would be “first activist” in the contest to replace Nicola Sturgeon as both SNP leader and Scottish First Minister.

A by-election would come at a difficult time for the SNP, which has just gone through a divisive leadership contest. It was only after Yousaf won that he discovered the party’s auditors had quit months ago, and have yet to be replaced.

Meanwhile a Police Scotland investigation into the party’s finances saw the home Sturgeon shares with former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell searched, with Murrell being arrested and questioned by police before being released without charge.

However Yousaf stressed the “progressive record” of the SNP had helped the party “gain the trust of voters at election after election”.

There could be a potential by-election in Rutherglen and Hamilton West as Margaret Ferrier MP was suspended STV News

Speaking ahead of his visit, the First Minister added: “Only the SNP will ensure Scotland’s priorities are put first and offer a positive, ambitious and radical vision for their future as an independent country.

“That’s the message I’ll be sharing with voters in Rutherglen and Hamilton West today.

“During the leadership campaign, I vowed, as the grassroots candidate, to step-up campaigning and push forward our levels of activism to the highs of 2014.

“With Scotland’s Parliament under attack from a Westminster powergrab, and a Tory cost-of-living crisis that’s hammering families across Scotland, the SNP will be taking its progressive vision for a fairer Scotland to doorsteps across the country today.”

The SNP leader insisted Scotland “deserves better” than a choice between Tory Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer.

He added: “While the Brexit-loving Labour and Tories fight for the keys to Number 10, Scots are being left behind by the broken Westminster system.

“People across Scotland deserve more than they’re getting from the Westminster establishment, which is refusing to take any real action to tackle the devastating impacts of Brexit and the cost-of-living crisis harming household incomes in every community.”

Ferrier won the Rutherglen and Hamilton West seat for the SNP in 2019 – but was later found to have damaged the reputation of the Commons and placed people at risk by taking part in a debate and travelling by train while suffering from Covid-19.

If she is barred from the Commons for 10 days or more, that could trigger a recall petition, which would result in a by-election in the constituency – although 10% of voters there would need to support this for it to go ahead.

Parliament is still to determine her punishment, but the Commons Standards Committee has already recommended the MP – who now sits as an independent – should be suspended for 30 days.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “Voters won’t forget Margaret Ferrier’s reckless rule-breaking, no matter how many SNP campervans are dispatched to Rutherglen.

“As Humza Yousaf desperately scrambles to hold his crumbling party together, Scottish Labour is offering real change.

“The SNP is chaotic and divided – the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West deserve better.”

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