“Mr Cairns, who was 44, was taken ill in March. He died on Monday night. The Inverclyde MP, a former Scotland Minister, was serving in his second spell as chairman of the group. He previously held the role in 2004 before returning in October last year.
“Mr Cairns was first elected to Parliament in 2001, having earlier trained as a Roman Catholic priest. The Board of Deputies said his death was “terribly sad”.
The sudden death of Cairns will create a big test for Ed Miliband in the Inverclyde by-election. Cairns had a 14,000 majority with the SNP in second place. The SNP will be very keen to prove itself and show the drubbing it dealt Labour can be repeated when it comes to a Westminster seat. It will go into that battle full of confidence. Labour has to hold the seat.