SNP leadership candidates make last-minute calls for votes as deadline nears
SNP leadership candidates Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes have urged waivering party members to back them in eleventh-hour bids for votes.
The ballot of 72,000 SNP members will close at noon today, with the result of the three-way race between Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan expected at 2pm.
The winner is then expected to be confirmed by MSPs tomorrow, before being sworn in at the Court of Session on Wednesday.
As the final day begins, it is thought the battle between Forbes, 32, and Yousaf, 37, is close, with Regan likely to be in third place.
Yesterday Yousaf and Forbes issued video messages urging SNP members who have not yet voted to back them.
In his message, Yousaf referred to the UK Government's blocking of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, saying: "If you are still to decide who to vote for, I'm asking you to put me, Humza Yousaf, as your first choice for the next leader of the SNP and Scotland's next first minister.
"I'm the only candidate who will protect our pro-independence majority in parliament, I'm the only candidate who will stand up to Westminster's veto, I'm the only candidate who will continue on our progressive agenda. And I'm the only candidate who can build the team needed to deliver independence for Scotland."
Citing opinion polling which found she is the more popular candidate amongst the public, Forbes said: "I know from speaking to members across the country that lots of you are still deciding what to do. So my message to you in these last days is simple - I need your vote, Scotland needs your vote.
"Change happens only when we vote for it. Independence happens only if we win, and it is clear that in this election, I am the only candidate who can deliver that ultimate prize for our nation. Only I can reach across the political divide and convince No voters to think again. Every poll in the campaign tells you that, and without achieving that conversion of No voters, Scotland is stuck in an endless constitutional loop. So if you want to win, it is up to you to make it happen.
"I have met so many people in the last weeks who have waited so long - for many a lifetime- to achieve Scottish independence. Give me your support and Iet’s get this done."