LABOUR leader Sir Keir Starmer is heading to the constituency of Margaret Ferrier today, but any possible by-election looks set to be delayed after a Commons vote to suspend the disgraced politician was unexpectedly pulled. 

The vote on banning the ex-SNP politician should have taken place at 5 pm last night, but, according to reports, could not go ahead as there were not enough MPs in Parliament. 

Erskine May, the guide to parliamentary procedure, states the House can only be quorate if 35 MPs are able to vote in a division.

READ MORE: Shock as vote to suspend Margaret Ferrier delayed until June

There was speculation from Labour that some Tory MPs were preparing to vote against the ban because they fear it would set a precedent if Boris Johnson is ultimately sanctioned for misleading Parliament. 

Labour's shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray claimed it was "a grubby backroom deal between Ferrier, nationalists and some Tories, who don’t want Boris Johnson to suffer the same fate."

“This is an unholy alliance and total incompetence designed to defer democracy and give the Tories and the SNP a stay of execution at the ballot box while Ferrier draws a salary from the taxpayer," he added. 

Westminster is now in recess, with MPs not returning until June 5.

If MPs do back the lengthy punishment when they are back in the Commons, it will spark Scotland's first recall petition.

If, over the course of six weeks, 10 per cent of her constituents add their names to the petition, Ferrier will lose her job, triggering a by-election.

Labour is confident of a win in the constituency, and activists have been campaigning solidly for weeks. 

Modern Studies teacher Michael Shanks has been selected as their candidate. He remains, so far, the only candidate selected by any of the main parties in the constituency. 

Sir Keir was in Fife yesterday, meeting voters in Kirkcaldy.

Speaking ahead of the visit to South Lanarkshire this morning, Sir Keir said: “For too long, the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West have been failed by two bad governments and have been unrepresented by a missing-in-action MP.

“The people of this area are crying out for change and for a new politics that offers hope, partners with their ambition for their area, and focuses on their priorities.

“Only Labour can deliver the fresh start that Rutherglen and Hamilton West needs and only Labour will focus on tackling the cost-of-living crisis and building a brighter future for all of Scotland.”

Ms Ferrier would reject the claim she has been missing in action. In her unsuccessful appeal against her punishment, she said she had "an impeccable parliamentary record" and that her "participation in parliamentary business is almost unmatched among my colleagues."

The MP - who sits as an independent - said she had made 678 spoken contributions and voted 528 times since the election.

READ MORE: Dishonest, selfish and reckless: Panel's brutal verdict on Ferrier as appeal fails

It is not clear if any of her former SNP colleagues were in Parliament to vote to effectively end her career last night. 

Earlier, when asked by The Herald if he expected his MPs to vote for the suspension, Humza Yousaf gave an unequivocal yes. 

Previously, the party’s one MP on the Commons Standards Committee backed attempts to soften the punishment.

Allan Dorans voted for Ferrier to be suspended for nine sitting days. Had that passed it 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.

Joanna Cherry also criticised colleagues, saying the way Ferrier had been treated by some in the SNP was “shameful.” 

“She is a thoroughly decent woman who made a bad mistake for which she has already paid dearly,” she tweeted. 

The SNP has confirmed that they will officially campaign for Ferrier to lose her seat. 

Under the Recall Act 2015, parties, organisations and individuals can register with the Petitions Officer and spend up to £10,000 on the petition. 

Ferrier was found guilty of culpable and reckless conduct at Glasgow Sheriff Court last August after she admitted travelling on a train in September 2020 despite knowing she had Covid. 

The MP also spoke in the House of Commons and visited a number of locations in Glasgow, including a mass in Mungo’s church and a bar in Prestwick, Ayrshire, while waiting on the results of a Covid test.

After the positive result came through, she lied to colleagues and said she had to go home to visit a sick relative. 

She was ordered to carry out 270 hours of community service after pleading guilty to wilfully exposing people “to the risk of infection, illness and death”.