EAST Renfrewshire politician Jackson Carlaw has set his sights on becoming the next First Minister after winning the contest to lead the Scottish Tories.

Mr Carlaw saw off the challenge of the party’s social security spokeswoman Michelle Ballantyne to secure the role on a permanent basis, having served as interim leader since Ruth Davidson quit the post last August.

And the Eastwood MSP insists he can offer voters “a clear alternative” to Nicola Sturgeon at next year’s Scottish Parliament election.
Mr Carlaw said: “I want us to continue to reach out to people who have never voted for us before, as we have successfully done in recent times.

“Under my leadership, the Scottish Conservatives will remain anchored on that sensible, solid middle ground where most Scots are and where elections are won and lost.”

Mr Carlaw won the backing of 4,917 Tory party members in Scotland in the leadership contest – comfortably ahead of Ms Ballantyne’s 1,581 votes.

Almost 60 per cent of the party’s 10,911 eligible electors cast their vote in the contest.

After the result was announced on Friday, Mr Carlaw said he had spoken to Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the way forward for the Scottish Conservatives.

He also insisted he will stand up to Mr Johnson if necessary, adding: “When I think Scotland’s interests require me to speak out, I will.”

Ms Davidson is among those to congratulate Mr Carlaw on his new role.
She said: “His time as both deputy leader and interim leader mean he is by far the most experienced person ever to have undertaken this role.

“Jackson is his own man and has firm ideas on how the party needs to change in order to build on recent successes. This is as it should be.”