Scotland’s first recall petition closed at 5pm yesterday, and, all going well, we should know the result tonight.

Rutherglen and Hamilton West voters have had six weeks to add their names to the petition after Margaret Ferrier was suspended for the Commons for 30 days over her Covid rule breaches.

If 10% of her constituents, exactly 8,113, back the petition, then the former SNP MP will almost immediately lose her seat.

What time will we know the result?

Counting of the signatures is expected to begin at around 3.30pm this afternoon, with South Lanarkshire Council saying they expect the whole process to last around two hours.

They hope to reveal the result tonight.

However, under the Recall of MPs Act 2015, Cleland Sneddon, the Chief Executive at the authority, who is acting as Petition Officer must first tell the Speaker of the House of Commons.

The result cannot be made public until it is acknowledged by Lindsay Hoyle’s office.

Given that he should be expecting the call, it’s likely that that acknowledgement will be fairly quick.

If the threshold has been reached, then as soon as the Speaker gets that notice, the seat becomes vacant.

What happens next?

Nothing can really happen until Parliament returns on September 4, when someone needs to move a writ in the Commons, a formal motion requesting the Speaker start the process of calling a by-election

The convention is that when the MP who is leaving the House is an independent - as Margaret Ferrier is - then it is up to the Government chief whip to move the writ.

It’s understood there have been meetings between the Tory whip and his SNP counterparts, over this.

A UK Government source told the Herald they would look to the SNP to move the writ for this constituency.

The Herald:

When will the by-election be?

The SNP has made clear that their chief whip, Brendan O’Hara, will move the writ in the first week back from recess.

Under parliamentary rules, a by-election must happen between 21 and 27 working days from the issuing of the writ.

Given that by-elections pretty much always happen on a Thursday, that means, the earliest possible date is Thursday 5 October and the latest is Thursday 12 October.

Interestingly, the Commons is in recess again for party conference season at that point of the year.

The Tories are meeting in Manchester between October 1 and 4, Labour are in Liverpool between the 8 and 11, and the SNP are heading to Aberdeen on 15 until 17.

This, by the way, is our best guess. We could be wrong! And if, for some reason, Parliament was to be recalled this month, then there’s every chance the writ could be moved sooner.

What happens at the by-election?

We know that the Labour candidate is Michael Shanks, a local teacher and that the SNP has selected local councillor, Katy Loudon.

The Tories and Lib Dems have yet to name a candidate, though we can expect both parties to contest the seat.

The local Greens are still mulling the decision.

Alex Salmond’s Alba has called for a “single nationalist candidate standing on a Scotland United platform for independence.”

This, he argued, would allow the by-election to be “fought on the future of Scotland not on the track record of the SNP administration.”

And Margaret Ferrier could stand.

In her statement released when the petition opened, she said her record of work for her constituents spoke for itself.