HUMZA Yousaf has said he "looks forward" to fighting a by-election in the constituency of disgraced former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier. 

The First Minister also called on his ex-colleague to resign rather than wait for a recall petition to force her out of Westminster. 

However, his authority was undermined after the SNP’s MP on the Commons Standards Committee backed attempts to soften the punishment facing the shamed politician.

Following a report into her flouting of rules by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, members of the committee were asked to back the recommendation she be suspended for 30 days. 

READ MORE: Margaret Ferrier faces 30 day Commons ban

However, the committee was split on the punishment. 

An amendment tabled by Tory MP Alberto Costa called for Ferrier to be suspended for nine sitting days, with her salary suspended for a further 30 days, and an apology to the House.

Crucially, the nine-day suspension would have killed off any chance of a recall petition. 

Under the procedure - established in the wake of the expenses scandal - it can only be triggered by a suspension of at least 10 sitting days.

The softening of the punishment was backed by the SNP MP for  Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock, Allan Dorans as well as two other Tory MPs on the committee. 

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However, Labour MP Yvonne Fovargue, Tory MP Andy Carter and the committee’s six lay members all rejected the amendment.

That means the Commons will now be asked to back the 30 day punishment. 

Speaking to press after his first appearance at First Minister's Questions, Mr Yousaf said he did not know why Mr Dorans had voted for the lesser punishment. He said he had yet to speak to the Westminster group.

Asked if there should be a by-election in Hamilton West and Rutherglen, he said: "Yes, there should be. We've said from day one that Margaret Ferrier should have stepped down because of her reckless action.

"So there should be. I look forward to fighting that by-election on our strong track record." 

Asked if he was confident of winning, he said: "We'll take nothing for granted. We won't be complacent, we've got strong support in Rutherglen and right across that region. It will take hard work."

The Herald:

Asked about Mr Dorans trying to amend the punishment, Mr Yousaf said: "I think he should have backed the suspension. The suspension that has been agreed by the committee.

"But I think actually the important thing is for Margaret Ferrier to finally do the right thing and stand down."

He added: "I haven't spoken to Allan Dorans or the Westminster group. You'll know that I just got this news about the suspension shortly before I went into FMQs."

Asked if he would be campaigning in the by-election, he replied: "OIf course I will. I'm the leader of the SNP."

Mr Dorans has been approached for comment. 

If Ms Ferrier is suspended the Speaker of the House will then notify the returning officer in South Lanarkshire council. 

They will then arrange for the petition to be open for six weeks, with signing stations opened for voters. 

For a recall petition to be successful 10% of eligible registered voters need to sign the petition. If the 10% threshold is reached the petition officer informs the Speaker of the House of Commons and the seat becomes vacant, sparking a by-election.

Ms Ferrier may stand as a candidate. 

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The first recall petition against an MP was triggered in July 2018 after the House of Commons agreed to suspend Ian Paisley, the DUP MP for North Antrim, for 30 Parliamentary sitting days. However, the petition did not attract enough signatures. 

In March 2019 Chris Davies, the Conservative MP, pleaded guilty to two offences under section 10 of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009. A recall petition was initiated after sentencing had taken place, on 24 April 2019.

The recall was successful, with 19% of electors signing the petition. Mr Davies was selected as the Conservative candidate for the subsequent by-election, which he lost.

Labour's Shadow Scotland Secretary Ian Murray told the Daily Record: "Just when you think the SNP could not get any lower, Allan Dorrans has closed ranks and voted with the Tories to protect Margaret Ferrier.

"This is a betrayal of the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West who deserve and need a new MP. It is clear for all to see that the SNPs party culture of one of cover-up and sleaze extends into their new Westminster and Scottish leaderships."