Nominations are open in the SNP leadership contest as senior figures have backed former deputy first minister John Swinney for the top job.

Meanwhile, a smaller number of the party’s parliamentarians have given their backing to former finance secretary Kate Forbes, who has not yet indicated if she will run.

First Minister Humza Yousaf announced on Monday he would stand down as he faced two confidence votes in Holyrood but said he would stay on to allow a successor to be chosen.

candidates have a week to declare their intention to run - The SNP’s national secretary announced nominations opened on Monday at 11.59pm and would close next Monday, 6 May. 

In the hours following the First Minister’s announcement, senior members of the party turned to Mr Swinney to offer stability.

Speaking to journalists in London, the former deputy first minister said he was “actively considering” putting himself forward.

Pete Wishart, the long-serving SNP MP, has already described Mr Swinney as being the “runaway favourite to take over the leadership of the party”.

Posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, Mr Wishart said: “John Swinney would be an excellent unifier for our country and our party. We should all get behind him if he chooses to run.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth, who had been suggested as a possible successor to Mr Yousaf, said: “John Swinney is the best choice to be Scotland’s First Minister & @theSNP leader.

“I will be strongly supporting him if, as I hope, he chooses to run.”

Reports also suggest Health Secretary Neil Gray – a key ally of Mr Yousaf and someone considered a potential leader – was backing Mr Swinney.

READ MORE: Swinney and Forbes considering bids for SNP leadership

Whoever wins the contest will need to be able to win enough votes in Holyrood to be elected First Minister, with the SNP needing just two votes for an overall majority.

The most likely suitors for the SNP would be the Greens – given the pro-independence bent of both parties and the reticence of other parties with the required number of MSPs to work with the party.

The Greens announced last week they would not support the First Minister in a confidence vote in his leadership this week after he scrapped the Bute House Agreement, eventually leading to his decision to step down.

The Herald: Humza Yousaf resigned as First Minister on Monday Humza Yousaf resigned as First Minister on Monday (Image: PA)

So far, MSPs Annabelle and Fergus Ewing have said they would like to see Ms Forbes have another tilt at the leadership, which MP Joanna Cherry has also said she supports her.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said his party would press ahead with a motion of no confidence in the Scottish Government, saying he did not think the SNP is capable of “stable, competent government”.

On the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme, it was put to him that his motion would fall given the Scottish Greens will not back it.

READ MORE: Alison Rowat - Humza Yousaf left as he governed, bewildered to the end

He said: “It’s of course for other political parties to decide how they vote in that motion, but I think the principle still applies in our motion and that’s why we’re pushing ahead.”

Asked who he feared more between Ms Forbes and Mr Swinney, he continued: “To be honest I’ll take either of them. Because I think both of them are leading a broken, dysfunctional party.

“I think John in particular can’t pretend to be some kind of change candidate.

“He has been at the heart, in his own words, not just of this SNP government for the last 17 years but the heart of the SNP machine for the last 40 years.”

The SNP’s former Westminster leader Ian Blackford also spoke to Good Morning Scotland, saying it was “obvious” that the SNP could not have done a deal with Alex Salmond.

He continued: “He will not be in the room with us, of course he’s not an MSP.”

He said Mr Yousaf is a man of “great dignity, great leadership”, adding: “John has got the political experience, I think – someone that can work across parliament.

“He was heavily involved in the Bute House Agreement, and I think someone that can build consensus.”