Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has denied claims during a visit to Prestwick that he's avoiding the upcoming by-election in Rutherglen and Hamilton West.

Mr Ross was speaking during a visit to a business at Prestwick Airport on Thursday - not far from one of the venues former MP Margaret Ferrier visited in a breach of Covid rules that led to her being stripped of her seat.

However, the Scottish Tory leader insisted he was “absolutely not” avoiding the by-election - which is widely tipped to be a straight fight between Labour and the SNP - saying there had not actually been a by-election called and adding that he would be campaigning with his candidate, Thomas Kerr.

He told the PA news agency: “I’ve confirmed I’ll be there supporting Thomas, as I say, he’s already launched his campaign, he’s already doing activity there with our local campaigners and I’ll be very proud to support Thomas in that by-election.”

Mr Ross was speaking in the wake of a YouGov poll released on Wednesday which saw his party's support fall at both Westminster and Holyrood, with Labour gaining on the SNP’s lead in a future general election.

Responding to the news, he said: “These opinion polls go up and down. I don’t get too excited when the polls go up, I don’t get too de-motivated when they go down.

“I think we’ve got to look at the next election and we’re some way off of that.”

The poll, he said, would see the party retain its six seats north of the border, while he claimed the SNP would “fall very far backwards”.

Asked if he was still the right man to lead the Tories north of the border, Mr Ross said: “Yes, absolutely.”

Ms Ferrier was forced out after a 'recall petition' was signed by the required number of voters in her seat - the first such petition in Scotland since the procedure was introduced in 2015.

She spent two hours in Vic's Bar in Prestwick in September 2020 while she had coronavirus symptoms, in breach of the strict rules which were in place at the time.

Ms Ferrier was put on a community payback order in September of last year and ordered to complete 270 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court to cuplably and recklessly exposing the public "to the risk of infection, illness and death".

She was later suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days, triggering the recall petition process.