THE ONLY person to so far come forward to become the next leader of the Scottish Conservatives has called on rival candidates to fight him for the job – stressing he would “relish a challenge”.

Douglas Ross, the current MP for Moray, formally launched his bid to replace Jackson Carlaw on Saturday after the Scottish Tory leader announces his shock resignation on Thursday, less than six months into the job.

Nominations for the role close on Wednesday and as things stand, Mr Ross would secure the leadership role unopposed – with a host of Tory politicians lining up to endorse his candidacy.

READ MORE: Douglas Ross secures backing of key Tory MSPs amid Scottish Conservative leadership bid

Speaking to Time Radio, Mr Ross stressed that he would welcome other candidates coming forward.

He said: “I think a leadership election is an opportunity for our members to get involved in a robust and rigorous debate and the candidates to outline their policies that they would take forward.

“I would relish a challenge – I relish the challenge of standing up against Nicola Sturgeon and I relish the challenge of standing up within my party on the policies I want to take forward.

“Any rigorous debate that gets people talking about Scottish Conservatives, about the union, is something that I would welcome.”

Mr Ross was quizzed over whether Mr Carlaw was pressured into quitting and denied he had spoken to the former leader before his decision was made.

He said: “Jackson took the decision after reflection over the last few weeks during the summer recess.

READ MORE: Angus Robertson says SNP members 'let down' by selection row as former minister joins contest

“I think it’s a measure of the man after four decades of dedicated service with the Scottish Conservatives that he realised he wasn’t the best person to take us forward into the important elections we have here in Scotland next May.

“I think he has reflected that his leadership didn’t take the party to where he wanted it to and it was time for someone new, someone fresh to take over – to take the challenge to the Scottish National Party who have been in government in Scotland since 2007.”