HUMZA Yousaf is hitting the campaign trail ahead of a crucial by-election in North Lanarkshire.

On Saturday, the First Minister will join Bellshill council candidate Joe Budd to speak to local people and businesses ahead of the by-election on June 15.

Budd previously quit the SNP and stood against it as an independent candidate in the Thorniewood by-election in North Lanarkshire in March 2021.

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The civil engineer will now stand for the SNP in the Bellshill seat, after the by-election was triggered by the resignation of former council leader Jordan Linden over allegations of sexual misconduct. Linden has denied the allegations against him.

Yousaf will set out the SNP’s “positive vision which puts local interests first” during a campaigning session over the weekend in the North Lanarkshire seat.

"I am proud that SNP activists the length and breadth of Scotland continue to take our progressive vision and plans for a fairer, greener, wealthier Scotland to the doorsteps,” the FM said.

The National: Humza Yousaf

"I am delighted to join our SNP candidate and local activists to speak to people and businesses in Bellshill about their priorities, and how the SNP is the only party protecting Scotland from the brunt of Westminster policies – in stark contrast to the Tory/Labour coalition in North Lanarkshire Council.

"The SNP is the only party offering a positive alternative to the broken Westminster system for our communities. A vote for the SNP ensures that we can get rid of damaging Tory governments for good.”

There are 10 candidates standing in the Bellshill by-election including Budd.

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The other candidates include Colin Cameron (Tory), John Cole (LibDem), Leo Lanahan (Scottish Family Party), John Marshall (Alba), Anne McCrory (Labour), Rosemary McGowan (Greens), Simona Panaitescu (Freedom Alliance), Billy Ross (British Unionists), and Neil Wilson (Ukip).

We previously told how Labour won power on North Lanarkshire council following Linden’s resignation thanks to a vote from the only British Unionist Party (BUP) councillor.

The SNP had only been in power for three months, but after a defection by Michael Coyle, councillor for Airdrie South, from the SNP to Labour, the party were able to take control of the authority.

The SNP group proposed a motion to have new group leader Tracy Carragher elected in post at the head of the council, but Scottish Labour put in their own bid for their group leader Jim Logue to be installed.

The Labour amendment passed with 38 votes, compared to the SNP’s 37, with one abstention.

Following Linden's resignation, SNP members in North Lanarkshire called on Yousaf to launch an investigation into the "toxic" culture of the council group. 

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Yousaf said during the SNP leadership contest that he wanted to be the “First Activist” for the party, and has frequently been out on the doorsteps since taking over the top job from Nicola Sturgeon.

We previously told how in April, Yousaf led the SNP’s nationwide Day Of Action, targeting the Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency, ahead of a looming by-election following the suspension of Margaret Ferrier.

Ferrier was an SNP MP before she lost the party whip after breaching Covid-19 rules during the pandemic.