Douglas Ross, the MP for Moray, has confirmed he will be a candidate for the Scottish Conservative leadership.
Mr Ross is widely seen as the favourite to succeed Jackson Carlaw, who quit on Thursday after less than six months in the job.
If he becomes leader, he will stand for election as an MSP in next May’s Holyrood elections.
Until then, former leader Ruth Davidson has agreed to stand in for him during First Minister’s Questions.
‘Maintain and improve’ the union
Confirming his leadership bid, Mr Ross said it was a “crucial time in Scottish politics”.
He said: “We are months away from an important election, and need strong, decisive leadership of our party to take on and defeat the SNP in seats right across the country.”
Mr Ross called on voters who wanted to “put division behind and beat the SNP” to unite.
“Scotland is an integral part of the United Kingdom and that’s a relationship I want to maintain and improve. Under my leadership, this will be an absolute priority”, he said.
He said the focus should be on “the issues that matter”, including a strong economy, good schools, safe streets and a world-leading NHS.
‘Younger and fresher voice’
When he announced his resignation, Mr Carlaw said he believed that a “younger and fresher voice” should take the party into next year’s Holyrood election.
He added: “In the last few weeks, I have reached a simple if painful conclusion – that I am not, in the present circumstances, the person best placed to lead that case over these next vital months in Scottish politics prior to the Holyrood elections.”
Mr Carlaw took over from Ruth Davidson in February after serving as her deputy.
Ms Davidson has said she will not seek re-election as an MSP next year, but has agreed to represent her party in the chamber during First Minister’s Questions until then if Mr Ross becomes leader.
Mr Ross then hopes to win a seat at Holyrood, but has said he will also continue as an MP until the next general election.
‘Worried about the polls’
The Scottish Tory MSP Adam Tomkins earlier told Good Morning Scotland that Mr Ross would be an “outstanding leader”.
He said: “I think the reason why we’re worried about the polls is because we think that they might be right for the first time in Scottish history.
“Independence now looks like it might not be the minority pursuit that it’s always been but the position of a majority of Scots and we need to do something about that.
“I think Douglas is exactly that kind of combination of formidable and robust and determined that we do need. I think he will be an outstanding candidate and an outstanding leader if he does announce his candidacy.”