A HIGH stakes Westminster by election looks set to take place in Scotland this autumn after MP Margaret Ferrier lost her appeal against a Commons suspension for breaching Covid rules.

The vote appears likely after reports suggest MPs will support the penalty against her and after Scottish Labour Anas Sarwar said he was "confident" there was sufficient support among her constituents for a recall petition to have her sacked. Ms Ferrier was elected as an SNP MP in 2019 but now sits as an independent.

Mr Sarwar took to the campaign trail in Cambuslang, part of Ms Ferrier's constituency, just hours after she lost her appeal against being suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days after she broke Covid rules during the 2020 lockdown.

"Given the sense of anger there has been in this constituency then I am pretty confident we can reach the number of signatures required in that recall petition," he said.

READ MORE: Margaret Ferrier MP loses appeal against Commons suspension

"The SNP and the Tories should be out there campaigning for this recall petition, have this by election and send a message both to the Scottish Government and the UK Government that this community and this country needs change."

He added: "Just over eight thousand signatures is the number required. From the canvas returns, from the conversations we have had on the doorsteps I think there is a really strong sense that people believe an injustice has happened here. They believe Margaret Ferrier should have resigned, that she hasn't done the right thing, and that people want a fresh start and that means a new MP.

The Herald:

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar campaigning in Cambuslang yesterday. Photo Gordon Terris/The Herald.

"I am confident that if we have a recall petition that we can achieve the necessary signatures. From the conversations we are having, regardless of people's previous political affiliations, there is a general sense of anger towards Margaret Ferrier. So I would expect people from all political persuasions to be signing that recall petition."

Scottish Labour have put forward teacher Michael Shanks as the candidate vying for the seat in a potential by-election and the general election, however the SNP have yet to select their candidate.

Mr Sarwar said his party are "going all out" to win in the constituency as the party pushes for a Labour majority in Westminster. His party's electoral recovery starts in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, he said.

READ MORE: One step closer to by-election amid Margaret Ferrier appeal fail

A by election in the seat would be a key test for both Mr Sarwar and First Minister and SNP leader Humza Yousaf and give an indication of support for their parties ahead of a general election, due next year.

It could come at a difficult time for the SNP with the long running police investigation into the party's finances showing no signs of concluding.

However, Mr Sarwar will be under pressure too should Labour not win back the seat given the SNP crisis, which the party's president said was its biggest in 50 years.

Ms Ferrier, who was elected in 2019 with a 5,000 vote majority, has already been ordered to complete a 270-hour community payback order by a court after admitting culpably and recklessly exposing the public "to the risk of infection, illness and death" as a result of her behaviour.

Dismissing Ms Ferrier's appeal against the recommendation made by standard's committee yesterday, the report by the Independent Expert Panel said: "She acted with blatant and deliberate dishonest intent.

"She acted with a high degree of recklessness to the public and to colleagues and staff at the House of Commons.

"She acted selfishly, putting her own interests above the public interest. There could therefore be no lesser sanction for this conduct."

Scottish Liberal Democrat deputy leader Wendy Chamberlain MP said: "Today's news takes us one step closer to a recall petition and a long overdue by-election."

READ MORE: Panel's brutal verdict on Ferrier as appeal fails

An SNP spokesman said: "There must now be a by-election in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, which the SNP has been calling for since Ms Ferrier's Covid rule breach first came to light in 2020.

"The SNP is ready to take the fight to the Tories and pro-Brexit Labour Party at that by-election - and we will be putting the cost of living, NHS and independence at the heart of our campaign.

"We will be working hard for every vote to ensure the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West can have a strong SNP MP to stand up for their interests locally and for Scotland."

Scottish Tory MSP Graham Simpson said Ms Ferrier's actions were "reckless" and echoed calls for her to resign.

He added: "Instead, it looks like she will brazenly continue to take her MP salary until the bitter end."

MPs will now be asked to vote on the 30-day ban in the Commons, with an MP who misses 10 sitting days due to suspension at risk of a by-election - but 10 per cent of voters in her constituency must sign a recall petition.

There has never been a recall petition in Scotland since the procedure was introduced in 2015.

The SNP won the seat in 2015, but lost it to Labour in 2017.

The party has yet to select its candidate with leader Humza Yousaf reportedly rejecting a slate of local candidates and entering into talks with alternative would-be MPs.

It is not yet clear whether the Scottish Greens and Alba will stand candidates in any by election possibly squeezing the SNP vote.

It is understand that with the process to vote on Ms Ferrier's suspension and the time taken for any recall petition to be lodged and signed it is likely that if a by election does take place, it would be in September or October.