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MSPs Kate Forbes, Ash Regan and Humza Yousaf have all advanced to the membership vote in the SNP leadership contest after securing enough nominations.

Candidates had to secure the backing of at least 100 members from a minimum of 20 local branches by noon on Friday.

The ballot will open on 13 March. It will use a single transferable vote system and the winner will be announced on the 27 March.

A spokesperson for the SNP stated: “With the 12pm deadline now past, we can confirm that all three declared candidates for the leadership of the SNP – Kate Forbes, Ash Regan and Humza Yousaf – have passed the threshold of nominations by at least 100 SNP members drawn from at least 20 SNP branches.”

The first week of the contest mainly focused on the candidates’ views on social issues. Ms Forbes ended up losing support from members and MSPs after saying she would not have voted in favour of equal marriage had she been in Holyrood in 2014, as well as saying she would not have voted for the Scottish Government’s gender reforms in December.

After facing pressure to quit the race, Ms Forbes shifted the focus, having stated on Thursday that she was “burdened” by the offence her comments caused, before explaining she plans to allow SNP members to be more involved in policy making if elected.

Mr Yousaf, another candidate, has faced criticism as a health minister for his highly ambitious recruitment claims, including a claim to hire 800 GPs by 2027, which has been heavily criticised. An Audit Scotland report stated that the aim was “not on track” and posed a risk to the recovery of primary care.

Like Ms Forbes, he was questioned by the media on his thoughts on gay marriage, insisting he fully supports equality and voted for it in the initial stages of the legislation in 2014.

He missed the vote, claiming that he had other government business to attend to.

Ms Regan has spoken out on the SNP’s plans for gender reform, resigning from government over Ms Sturgeon’s bill on the issue, claiming the party had lost its way in recent years.

She also pitched herself as the unity candidate during her campaign launch on Friday, stating that she would run a competent government while reaching out to the grassroots of the independence movement.

Ms Regan currently has had limited public support with support mainly coming from MP and fellow SNP rebel Joanna Cherry, as well as business manager Ivan McKee.