RUTH Davidson has switched her support in the Tory leadership race to Michael Gove after her preferred candidate was eliminated.

The Scottish Tory leader threw her weight behind the Environment Secretary after Home Secretary Sajid Javid came fourth in the latest round of ballots.

She said Mr Gove would “do the best job for Scotland”.

The SNP said "the curse of Ruth Davidson" had struck again.

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It is the second time Ms Davidson has chosen a candidate other than Boris Johnson, who she has shown little enthusiasm for in the past.

Mr Gove came a surprise second, leapfrogging Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, with Mr Johnson securely established as the most popular choice among MPs.

She told STV she was “very sad” that Mr Javid was out of the race, and that he had enhanced his reputation during the contest.

She said: “I don’t have a vote in the next round, but if I was to have a look at the three candidates that are left and say who I would back as the next Prime Minister, I would support Michael Gove.

“I think his experience in Scotland, the knowledge that he brings to some of the key areas as we move forward through Brexit - Scottish fishing, farming - can really play a role in helping communities here.”

When it was put to her that she was backing “anyone but Boris Johnson”, she said: “Well, no, I’ve backed Sajid right the way through this campaign.

“I’m very sad that he went out today. I wanted him to go all the way, become the first ethnic minority Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

“Apart from his ethnic background, I wanted it because he has a background leading four government departments, that he had worked himself up from poverty to successful businessman, and had transferred to public service.

“He’s no longer in the race, so therefore who is it that I think can do the best job for Scotland, and I think the Scot Michael Gove is that person of the final three.”

She did not mention Mr Johnson by name.

160m of EU funding they are entitled to.
SNP MSP George Adam said: “The curse of Ruth Davidson strikes again. She’s now got some run of form in backing the loser.

“Ruth Davidson hitched her wagon to Sajid Javid’s doomed campaign and, embarrassingly, couldn’t get a single one of her MPs to support him.

“Two weeks ago she took a daytrip to the Peterborough by-election and, true to form, helped rubber stamp another Tory defeat.

“Now that she’s backing Gove, even if he beats Jeremy Hunt, Boris Johnson’s odds will go even higher.

“Ruth Davidson used to be seen as a major figure in the Tory party. Now she’s become a complete irrelevance.

“A hardliner whose lies she once called out is about to become her new boss, and the next Prime Minister. That will be an unmitigated disaster for all of us.”

Around half the 13 Scottish Tory MPs also support Mr Gove, who got 61 votes to Mr Hunt’s 59.

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Mr Johnson had 157 votes, Mr Javid 34, and there were two spoiled ballots.

Mr Gove and Mr Hunt will now vye for second place in the last round of MP votes later today.

However, wins will go through five weeks of hustings with Mr Johnson to let Conservative party members choose their next leader and the UK’s Prime Minister.