NICOLA Sturgeon has said the prospect of a “hardline Brexiteer” becoming Prime Minister after Theresa May’s departure is “deeply concerning”, as she called for a general election.

The First Minister spoke out after Mrs May announced her exit from Downing Street after failing to deliver Brexit.

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Ms Sturgeon said she wished the Tory leader well, adding on Twitter: “She and I had profound disagreements - not least on her handling of Brexit and her disregard for Scotland’s interests.

“However, leadership is tough – especially in these times – and she deserves thanks for her service.

“Her departure will not solve the Brexit mess that the Tories have created. Only putting the matter back to the people can do that.

“Given current circumstances, it also feels deeply wrong for another Tory to be installed in Number 10 without a general election.

“The prospect of an even more hardline Brexiteer now becoming PM and threatening a no deal exit is deeply concerning.

“Added to the experience of the past three years, this makes it all the more important that Scotland is given the choice of becoming an independent country.”

Her statement suggests she favours a second EU referendum, another independence referendum and a general election before the next Holyrood election in 2021. 

READ MORE: Politicians react as Theresa May stands down as Conservative leader

However, a longer statement released to the media shortly afterwards altered her message slightly. 

It read: "Putting another Tory leader in Downing Street without a general election is not the solution to this crisis. The only way to resolve Brexit is to put the issue back to the people."

It also said she hoped that "seeing a female First Minister welcoming a female Prime Minister to Scotland showed little girls everywhere that nothing is off limits to them".

An emotional Mrs May announced she will stand down as party leader on June 7, triggering a contest to replace her – with former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson currently the favourite.

She will stay on in a caretaker capacity until the end of the process, which could be completed by the end of July.

Speaking outside Number 10, Mrs May said she had tried three times to secure her Brexit deal.

And in a warning to any successor who may decide to push for a no-deal exit, she said: “Never forget that compromise is not a dirty word.”

The Tories are expected to sink to a record low when the results of the European elections are announced on Sunday night.