Former minister and SNP rebel Ash Regan has announced she will stand to succeed Nicola Sturgeon.
Announcing plans in the Sunday Mail, Ms Regan said: “We need to bring back unity, draw a line under certain things and move past them. I believe I am the person to do that. The electorate expect the Scottish Government to focus on things that are important to them.
“That means the NHS which is still struggling to get back on its feet after the pandemic. People expect a First Minister to concentrate on boosting the economy, creating jobs and helping them deal with the cost-of-living crisis.”
The former community safety minister quit her post in protest against the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill and has since become an outspoken critic of the legislation.
Since the First Minister’s announcement this week she would stand down from the role, Ms Regan has called for SNP members who left in the past year to be given a vote in the leadership race – a move described as “preposterous” by Deputy First Minister John Swinney.
The Edinburgh Eastern MSP becomes the second to announce she will stand to succeed the First Minister, with other high profile figures mulling a tilt at the leadership.
Ms Regan, in previous days, has also called for the party to allow MPs to run in Holyrood elections without having to give up their seat in veiled support for fellow SNP critic Joanna Cherry, who was blocked from a move to the Scottish Parliament by SNP rules.
Candidates have until Friday to receive more than the threshold of 100 nominations from at least 20 local branches.
If more than one candidate passes that mark, an election will be triggered, culminating on March 27.