Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson is “likely” to be Scotland’s next first minister, her deputy has said.
Jackson Carlaw insisted it was “perfectly possible, if not in fact now likely” that she would lead the next Scottish Government.
The Tory MSP, who is acting as interim leader while Ms Davidson is on maternity leave, also likened the current SNP administration at Holyrood to the end of the Conservatives’ 18 years in power at Westminster, under Margaret Thatcher and then John Major.
With the SNP having been in power in Scotland since 2007, Mr Carlaw said there was now “more of a sense of entitlement setting in”.
He told Holyrood magazine: “The second SNP administration - and this one too - reminds me a little bit of the period of the Major years as they wore on, where, after 18 years of Conservative government, there was more of a sense of entitlement setting in, and a sense among people that this is how it now is in the ordered way of politics and nothing is ever really going to change that.
“Well, we found out very rudely in 1997 that the electorate is very capable of deciding when it’s time for a change and it can decide for a change in a way that you would never have thought possible, even five years before it happened.”
Asked if he could see the Conservatives - who lost all their MPs in Scotland in 1997 - forming the next government at Holyrood, Mr Carlaw stated: “Yes, I can. And I can do that because I’ve been around as long as I have. I’ve understood the stark changes that can take effect in an election.
“I very much believe that in the public’s mind at the moment there are only two candidates to be First Minister of Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon or Ruth Davidson.
“And if the momentum continues to build towards the idea that we need a change because things aren’t working well, I think there will be people - because of that authenticity and because the agenda Ruth will build up around that - who will look at what we offer and say, actually, you know, I think I can see Ruth Davidson as the FM of Scotland.
“I believe that it’s perfectly possible, if not in fact now likely.”
He said Ms Davidson was “looking forward to coming back” to work after the birth of her son Finn in October 2018, saying she would “come back recharged and ready”.