The SNP's former leader at Westminster Ian Blackford will today join Scottish Government minister Neil Gray on the by-election trail with an anti-Brexit message.

Mr Blackford, who is now the administration's business ambassador, will campaign with the economy secretary and the party's candidate Katy Loudon in Burnside, part of the Rutherglen and Hamilton West constitutency.

Ahead of the trio's visit to businesses in the area, the SNP said firms in South Lanarkshire "deserve better than the pro-Brexit Westminster parties" with both the Conservatives and Labour now in favour of continued separation from the EU.

The party said that since Brexit, South Lanarkshire has lost £146 million on EU imports and exports, as well as almost £10 million in direct EU funding.

Analysis from Bloomberg Economics also found Brexit has cost the UK £100 billion a year in lost output, and caused a third of the UK’s food price inflation.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Mr Blackford said: "Westminster has trashed the UK economy and inflicted long-term damage on businesses across Scotland, South Lanarkshire and Rutherglen and Hamilton West. They deserve better.  

“Leaving the EU has contributed to food inflation soaring and left businesses facing uncertainty and expensive red tape - but Keir Starmer and Anas Sarwar are happy to ignore reality as the Labour party continues to back Brexit.

“A vote for the SNP’s Katy Loudon in the upcoming by-election is a vote for a strong voice at Westminster, standing against Brexit and Westminster policies that are damaging to our local businesses and community.” 

Ms Loudon said: “While the SNP Scottish Government are championing businesses here in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, with policies such as the ‘New Deal’ and ‘Shop Local’ campaign, Westminster's cost-of-living crisis and Brexit is causing long-term damage.

"Small businesses, who make up the backbone of Scotland's economy, have particularly felt the brunt.

“Businesses have suffered as a result of decisions made at Westminster by Westminster parties, and that includes the decision to drag Scotland out of the EU despite us overwhelmingly voting against it. South Lanarkshire alone rejected Brexit by 63%. 

“A vote for the SNP in Rutherglen and Hamilton West is a vote to reject the failure of Brexit, tackle the cost of living crisis in full and rejoin the world's largest single market in the EU, as an independent Scotland."  

Voters in Rutherglen and Hamilton West will head to the polls on October 5, after the former MP Margaret Ferrier was removed in a recall petition last month.

The petition was triggered following her suspension from the Commons after she broke Covid lockdown rules in September 2020.