Angus Robertson has given Humza Yousaf his backing in the race to be next SNP leader and first minister after turning down the role himself.
After Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation, Mr Robertson – who is the constitution, external affairs and culture secretary – was widely tipped as her successor.
He said he was “flattered” by the suggestion but the time was “not right” for him to take on the job of first minister as he has two young children.
Mr Yousaf has so far come out top in terms of SNP parliamentary endorsements, with Mr Robertson joining Education Secretary Shirley Anne-Somerville and public health minister Maree Todd.
Fellow candidate Kate Forbes has received the backing of business secretary Ivan McKee.
No current Scottish Government ministers have backed Ash Regan’s bid to become the next SNP leader.
Mr Robertson will join Mr Yousaf and Glasgow Kelvin MSP Kaukab Stewart at Glasgow University on Tuesday to meet students and local activists.
He said: “Having taken the time to listen to all the candidates in the race to become the next SNP leader and first minister of Scotland, I am in no doubt that it has to be Humza.”
The ballot in the contest will open on Monday March 13 and the result will be announced on March 27.