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Voters go to the polls to elect new MP

A polling station - Credit: PA

Voters are going to the polls in a by-election to choose a new MP for the Airdrie and Shotts constituency.

Polling stations opened Thursday morning in the North Lanarkshire seat in the race to replace incumbent SNP MP Neil Gray.

Gray stepped down to contest the same seat in the Scottish Parliament election and became an MSP last week.

The two elections were not held on the same day due to concerns about coronavirus and the possibility of voter confusion because of the different ballot systems used in Westminster and Holyrood elections.

Gray held the seat for the SNP in the 2019 general election, taking 45% of the vote, with Labour coming second on 32%. This gave the SNP a majority of 5,201 votes.

Modern studies teacher Anum Qaisar-Javed is the SNP candidate, facing Labour councillor Kenneth Stevenson.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon campaigned in Airdrie and Shotts with Qaisar-Javed on Wednesday, alongside the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar was also on the campaign trail on Wednesday with Stevenson.

Ahead of polls opening, Sturgeon said: “Anum will be an exceptional addition to our Westminster team if elected.

“Not only would Anum represent a strong voice for Scotland, she would send an incredibly powerful message to all women of colour that anything is possible in politics.

“That is why I am urging each and every resident in Airdrie and Shotts to cast their vote for Anum and the SNP on May 13.”