Scotland’s finance secretary Kate Forbes is expected to announce on Monday whether she will run for the SNP leadership, the country’s business minister has said.
The search to find a new leader for the party is under way following First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s surprise resignation announcement last week.
Scotland’s health secretary Humza Yousaf has already announced he will run for the post, as has former community safety minister Ash Regan, who resigned from her ministerial position in protest at the Scottish Government’s gender reform plans.
Business Minister Ivan McKee said an announcement from the “hugely talented” Ms Forbes could be expected on Monday.
“So Kate has had to assess her position, understand what can be done, but my understanding is that she has considered that and will be making an announcement later today and we shall see what she’s got to say.”
Mr McKee said he would be backing Ms Forbes if she decides to run.
He said: “I think Kate is a hugely talented individual, I’ve had the pleasure of working with her over the past seven years and seen first-hand what she is able to deliver, her focus on the things that are important to Scotland and her ability to engage with people on a very real and authentic level and persuade them of her case.
“And I think those talents, to be able to deliver excellent public services, a strong economy, a green economy for Scotland and to be able to persuade people of the case for the SNP and for independence, are exactly the assets we need in a leader.”
SNP depute leader Keith Brown and Deputy First Minister John Swinney have ruled themselves out of the race, as have Stephen Flynn, the SNP’s Westminster leader, Ukraine minister Neil Gray and environment minister Mairi McAllan.
Ms Forbes has long been seen as a potential successor to the First Minister.
She was thrust into the limelight by having to step in and deliver the Scottish budget at the 11th hour in 2020 after her predecessor Derek Mackay resigned in disgrace.
But the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, who is a Free Church of Scotland member, could be at odds with the wider party – and current policy – on some social issues, including the hotly-debated gender reforms blocked by the UK Government.
Candidates have until Friday to secure 100 nominations from at least 20 local branches to secure their place on the ballot, with the new SNP leader being announced on March 27.