In a surprise announcement on Saturday, former SNP leadership candidate Ash Regan appeared at the Alba Party conference in Glasgow to announce she had joined the party.

It came after MP Lisa Cameron opted to join the Conservatives last month, and made her the first Alba MSP at Holyrood.

But who are her new party, and what do they stand for?

Here's everything you need to know in five minutes.

Who are the Alba Party?

The party was founded in February 2021 by the former television producer Laurie Flynn.

Alex Salmond, who had resigned from the SNP in 2018 over allegations of sexual misconduct - he was later acquitted - became leader at the party's election launch the following month.

Alba is the Gaelic name for Scotland, which Mr Salmond pronounced incorrectly while publicly launching the new movement.

The Herald: Alba Party leader Alex Salmond

Its first elected member was Chris McEleny, who was SNP group leader on Inverclyde Council and defected upon Alba's launch.

Other notable members are former Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan and Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, a former MP.

How many MPs and MSPs do they have?

The Alba Party has never seen a candidate directly elected to either Westminster or Holyrood.

Kenny MacAskill and Neale Hanvey are its two MPs, both of whom defected from the SNP, with Ms Regan becoming their first MSP.

Following Mr Salmond's announcement of the new party 11 councillors, all of whom had been elected on an SNP ticket, joined.

Read More: Ewing dismisses speculation he is to defect to Alba as he gives update on SNP appeal

Going in to last year's local elections Alba had 13 councillors and stood 111 candidates across Scotland, none of whom were elected.

On Monday it was announced that a councillor in South Ayrshire, Chris Cullen, had left the SNP to join Alba.

Ms Regan welcomed him by saying: "At the weekend I asked voters to trust us to deliver what they have voted for - which is: politicians to get on with, and deliver Independence.

“I also urged people to re-commit to Scotland’s cause and to come and join ‘Team Independence’ in the Alba Party. 

“I am therefore pleased that we have achieved an important milestone in now having representation at every level of Government: at Westminster, Council level, and of course Holyrood where I hope to be the first of many Alba Party members of the Scottish Parliament.” 

What is Alba's platform?

First and foremost, the party aims to secure Scottish independence as an "immediate necessity".

It also advocates for the country to become a republic following the death of Queen Elizabeth, while it opposed the changes to the Gender Recognition Act which were ultimately blocked by Westminster, calling instead for a citizens assembly.

The Herald: Alba held their first ever 'real rootin’ tootin’ political conference' over the weekend

The party has advocated for a 'Yes alliance' between pro-independence parties, which would involve the SNP, Alba and Scottish Greens agreeing to stand down in certain seats to ensure one of the other parties could win.

Read More: Alba MP claims more SNP politicians set to defect to Alex Salmond's party

Why has Ash Regan joined?

The MSP for Edinburgh Eastern was a candidate for the party's leadership following Nicola Sturgeon's resignation, but was eliminated in the first round.

She has accused the SNP of "losing its focus" on independence, and is widely seen as a Salmond loyalist.

First Minister Humza Yousaf has said her defection is "no great loss" and urged her to stand down and trigger a by-election having switched parties.

Is the 'Yes alliance' likely at the next Westminster election?

There's no love lost between Mr Salmond and some of the more senior figures in the SNP, so it's not likely that the party would agree not to stand candidates in certain seats.

Mr Salmond has also described the co-leader of the Scottish Greens, Patrick Harvie, as a "total idiot" and has urged his former party to end their Holyrood coalition with the Greens.

So, no, probably not.