Humza Yousaf is considering quitting as Scotland's first minister rather than face two confidence votes, it has been reported.

A source close to Mr Yousaf said that resignation was now an option but a final decision had not yet been taken.

"The clock has been ticking ever downwards," the source told BBC  News on Sunday night.

Mr Yousaf is facing a fight for survival as First Minister after abruptly ending the SNP's power-sharing deal with the Scottish Greens last Thursday.

He is understood to have ruled out a deal with Alex Salmond's Alba party, and his prospect of surviving a vote of no confidence in his leadership is now dependent on the Scottish Greens.

Votes on the motions are expected at Holyrood in the coming week.

However, there are now reports he could step down as early as today.

A close friend told the Times: "Humza knows what’s best for the country and the party.

"He is first party activist and a party man, and that’s why he knows it’s time for someone else.”

Senior nationalists figures are believed to have approached former SNP leader John Swinney to become an interim First Minister if Yousaf is forced from office.

A major party figure added: “There are only a couple of people who can bring calm to choppy waters and bring reassurance to the public, and John is the most obvious person," the Scottish Sun reports. 

Other names being bandied about to take over from Mr Yousaf are his defeated leadership rival Kate Forbes, and Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth. 

SNP MSP Michelle Thomson said she has heard “rumours” the First Minister is considering stepping down rather than facing a vote of no confidence in the Scottish Parliament.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland, Ms Thomson, who was part of Kate Forbes’ campaign for leadership last year, said: “I’m hearing the same rumours (that the First Minister is considering stepping down) and I think we’re all waiting to see what the actual position is.

“I guess the rumours suggest that something is afoot, but I honestly can’t clarify because I’ve had no update nor, as I understand have my MSP group, so I guess we’ll all hear definitively one way or another this morning.”

Ms Thomson went on to describe the First Minister as an “honourable man” who was “well liked” within the SNP Holyrood group.

The Herald: Jenny GilruthJenny Gilruth (Image: PA)

The SNP leader has written to other parties in an attempt to build bridges and establish how they can work with his minority Government, inviting the other leaders to meetings at his official residence.

Mr Yousaf’s former partners in government, the Scottish Greens, have indicated they will not be changing their minds about supporting the upcoming motion of no confidence in him – saying he must face “consequences”.

Speaking to BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show, Lorna Slater, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, said her party’s position on the confidence motion is unchanged.

She said: “I cannot imagine anything at this point that could change that position.

“This was a spectacular breach of trust.”

Humza fights for survival - Read more: 

Scottish Labour to trigger vote of no confidence in SNP government

'Political Cowardice': Greens turn on Scottish Government as political pact scrapped

Greens to back no confidence motion in Humza Yousaf

Herald Poll: Should Humza Yousaf stand down following Bute House collapse?

The tight parliamentary arithmetic at the Scottish Parliament, where the SNP have 63 out of 128 voting MSPs, means the support of the Alba Party’s sole MSP Ash Regan may be needed to get Mr Yousaf over the line.

Ms Regan has not yet confirmed how she will vote in the looming motions of no confidence at Holyrood.

The Alba Party’s National Executive Committee held an emergency meeting on Sunday where it approved her proposal to put the party on an election footing in the event that an early poll is required.

Ms Regan set out to the NEC her three priorities in any negotiations with Mr Yousaf, which are independence, women’s rights and the “restoration of competent government”.

The party said she received the unanimous backing of the ruling body to pursue these priorities “in the best interest of Scotland”.

Mr Yousaf’s spokesperson has dismissed as “fantasy” the idea the First Minister would agree an electoral pact with the Alba Party to gain its support ahead of the no-confidence votes.

The First Minister has written to the leaders of Scotland’s political parties to seek “common ground”.

The Herald: Scottish Green Party co-leaders Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie said their MSPs would vote against Humza Yousaf Scottish Green Party co-leaders Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie said their MSPs would vote against Humza Yousaf (Image: (Lesley Martin/PA))

He hopes to hold separate meetings with each group at Bute House in Edinburgh to discuss how they can “contribute constructively” while acknowledging there are “strong feelings” about the upcoming confidence votes.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said it was a “humiliating and embarrassing letter”.

On Sunday, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton rejected the offer of talks, telling Mr Yousaf: “Your actions this past week have eroded entirely any remaining trust that you enjoyed across the chamber.

“They suggest that rather than being motivated by the national interest, you are presently motivated only by your own self-interest and by political survival.”

A Scottish Labour spokeswoman said: “We will respond to this letter in due course.

“However, it is clear that Humza Yousaf has lost the confidence of Parliament and the public. There is nothing he can do to change Scottish Labour, or the public’s, mind about that.”