HUMZA Yousaf has called on Ash Regan to resign her seat after she joined Alba – describing her defection as “no great loss” to the SNP.

The announcement that Regan – who ran in the SNP’s leadership contest earlier this year – had left the SNP was made by Alex Salmond during Alba’s party conference in Glasgow.

The First Minister told The National he was not surprised by the move, but said if she “had principles” she would resign her MSP seat.

“It is no great loss to the SNP group I have to say and it is also hardly not a surprise either given Ash’s statements for many months, in fact for longer than that,” Yousaf said.

READ MORE: Ash Regan reacts to Humza Yousaf's win

“Ash should do the decent thing, she should resign her seat – she was elected on an SNP ticket.

“I can give you a guarantee that people did not vote for Ash in her constituency because of any personal vote, they voted for her because she had the SNP logo next to her name in the 2021 election.

“So if she had principles she would do the right thing and resign – but I have to say it is no great loss to the SNP.”

The National: Former SBP leadership candidate Ash Regan has quit the party, to become Alba’s first MSP at Holyrood. (Jane Barlow/PA)

Regan’s defection means that Alba now have their first MSP in the Scottish Parliament. She has also been named the party's Holyrood leader.

In a statement announcing the move, she said: “It was a distinct privilege to be elected in 2016 on an independence platform, riding the wave of optimism that the 2014 independence referendum ignited across Scotland.

READ MORE: Ash Regan warns against 'most seats' independence strategy

"And it has been an honour to serve the people of Scotland as an MSP and a minister. Sadly, it has become increasingly clear that the SNP has lost its focus on independence, the very foundation of its existence.

"I could not, in good conscience, continue to be part of a party that has drifted from its path and its commitment to achieving independence as a matter of urgency.

“Today, I am proud to take up the mantle of leadership for Alba at Holyrood and to become the first Alba Member of the Scottish Parliament.”

Responding to the news of Regan's defection on social media, SNP MP Pete Wishart said it was "so funny and so entirely predictable".

He went on: "Apparently she becomes their ‘leader’ at Holyrood ... Alba still never has had anyone directly elected and it is unlikely they ever will."

SNP councillor Allan Casey commented: "The only thing she could suggest to forward indy was a readiness thermometer in George square, embarrassing.

"She should do the right thing and resign, people voted for an SNP MSP."

Speaking to The National at the party conference, Alba members were optimistic about the party's hopes going forward after Regan's defection.

"Just one stane in the dyk and I think things are going to begin to move," one delegate said. "We expect to see a lot more movement at Holyrood in this direction."

Others praised Regan for having "stuck to her principles" on issues including the "Voter empowerment mechanism" for elections and on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill. 

"Her politics on women, the GRR, and independence totally fit ... and I hope many more of her colleagues in the SNP have a think about doing the same."