NICOLA Sturgeon is confident increasing numbers of Shetlanders are preparing to vote SNP at an upcoming by-election, many for the first time.

On her second visit ahead of the August 29 vote, the First Minister praised the “passion, grit and determination” of the party’s candidate Tom Wills to do better for Shetland in Holyrood.

The by-election was called after LibDem MSP Tavish Scott resigned to move to a new job as head of external affairs for Scottish Rugby.

Wills beat Fergus Mutch, the SNP's head of communications at Holyrood, to secure the party's nomination.

Sturgeon described the SNP pick as “the stand-out candidate of the by-election” and said he would be a “great asset” to the islands in Holyrood.

The First Minister said: “A vote for the Tom at this by-election will make a real difference and help send a strong message to Boris Johnson that Shetland won’t stand for Brexit.

“Tom’s campaign is going from strength to strength, and his hard work and enthusiasm to help build a brighter future for these islands is clear for all to see. Over the past few weeks we’ve had a real glimpse of what a great MSP for Shetland he would be.

“Whether it’s his pledge to help cut travel costs for working families or his plan to use his experience in renewables to kick start a green jobs boom for Shetland, Tom’s ideas are really striking a chord with voters.”

READ MORE: Tom Wills: This is why the SNP have been good for Shetland

The SNP leader also met with staff at the Community Bike Project and Shetland Farm Dairies, before spending the day at the Cunningsburgh Show.

She added: “In this constituency, more of the same won’t make Boris Johnson think again and only the SNP has an unequivocal message of stopping Brexit and making Scotland’s voice heard.

“The people of Shetland deserve the right to choose a different path than what’s being forced upon us by an out-of-touch, right-wing Tory government with no mandate in Scotland.

“Scotland’s future cannot be for Westminster to decide. A vote for the SNP on 29th August is a vote to decide our own future.”

The National: SNP candidate for the Shetland by-election, Tom WillsSNP candidate for the Shetland by-election, Tom Wills

Wills says the reaction from local voters to his campaign has been “hugely positive”.

“Scotland has been side-lined and silenced by Westminster from the very start of this Brexit process, but this month we can change that if we make our voices heard,” he said.

“More and more people are ready to vote SNP in this by-election, many of them for the first time.

“The response from voters has been hugely positive – Shetland is ready for a change and we need an MSP that is willing to work constructively with the Scottish Government to achieve that.

He continued: “If the people of Shetland put their trust in me I’ll prove what can be achieved by an SNP MSP. In just 18 months before the next Holyrood election, I believe I can cut travel costs for islanders and lay the foundations to help Shetland become a real global leader in renewables.

“Of course, I’d stand again on my record in 2021 when the choice will again be for islanders. But right now I’ll keep working hard for every vote and aim to achieve the SNP’s best ever election result in Shetland.

“Send a message of hope for the future and vote SNP.”