EASTWOOD MSP Jackson Carlaw has confirmed his bid to be the next leader of the Scottish Conservatives, insisting he is "ready for the fight."

Mr Carlaw, who stood in as interim leader after Ruth Davidson's sudden resignation from the role in August 2019, announced his candidacy shortly after nominations opened this morning.

Frontbencher Michelle Ballantyne, the party's social security spokeswoman at Holyrood, is also widely expected to stand.

Mr Carlaw already has the backing of Holyrood frontbenchers Liam Kerr and Rachael Hamilton, who are jointly chairing his leadership campaign.

He tweeted: "As nominations open for leader of the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party this morning, I can confirm I'll be standing.

"We must take the fight to Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP, broadening our platform and diversifying our party. I'm ready for the fight."

The leadership contest comes after Ms Davidson, who transformed the Scottish Conservatives to make the party the main opposition to the SNP in Scotland, stepped down – citing both her "conflict" over Brexit and the birth of her son Finn as reasons for her decision.

The hunt for her successor was put on hold after Prime Minister Boris Johnson called a snap General Election.

The Tories lost seven of the 13 seats they had held in Scotland, with the campaign focused heavily on opposition to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's plans to hold a second independence referendum.

Nominations close at noon on Friday, January 17, with those looking to be the next leader needing to secure the support of at least 100 party members.