Kate Forbes is considering a run at the SNP leadership but will weigh up what's "in the best interests of the party, country and family" before making a decision.

The former finance secretary said there had been a "groundswell of support amongst the party" for her.

Speaking to journalists, she said whoever became the next SNP leader would need to have the membership behind them.

READ MORE: Tories withdraw confidence motion in Humza Yousaf

She told reporters at Holyrood: “It’s still early days.

“We’ll obviously be considering things over the next few hours and so on – nobody’s declared yet, so I think we do still have a bit of time.”

Asked if she was tempted to run, she said: “I think for me it’s clear I have a groundswell of support amongst the party.

“That was clear from the last contest and clearly we need to weigh up what is in the best interests of the party, the country and my family.

“It’s what I’ve said quite consistently over the last year that if I were to run, those would be the conditions.”

Ms Forbes ran Humza Yousaf close at the last election, taking 48% of the votes to his 52%.

Nominations for the contest to replace Mr Yousaf opened last night and will run until next Monday.

John Swinney - who last led the party more than 20 years ago - is also considering entering the race.

He is currently the favourite with Mr Yousaf’s ministerial team and many other senior figures in the SNP.

On Tuesday morning Health Secretary Neil Gray became the latest minister to back him. 

Writing on X, Mr Gray - who was Mr Yousaf's campaign manager - said: “Yesterday was a sad day, but today we must move forward. I believe Scotland now needs stability, experience and diplomacy to lead us forward.

“I hope @JohnSwinney will stand to be the next @theSNP leader and First Minister of Scotland as he brings all those qualities and more.”

Energy Secretary Màiri McAllan and Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth have also both said they would back Mr Swinney.

He also has the support of Ian Blackford and the party’s depute leader Keith Brown.

However, a number of other senior SNP figures have suggested the veteran politician would not be best placed to take the party forward. 

MP Carol Monaghan said there needed to be someone with "wider appeal" who would worry the SNP's opponents. 

Her Westminster colleague Joanna Cherry tweeted: "As Humza, who should be thanked for his service, will remain FM until we have a new leader there is no need for an unseemly rush by the (old) boys club to stitch up the succession.

"The leader of the SNP should be chosen by our members not by men in grey suits."

READ MORE: Swinney and Forbes considering bids for SNP leadership

Asked by Sky News about the possibility of a coronation for Mr Swinney, Ms Forbes said her ex-front bench colleague had been "an extremely competent cabinet member for many years and he obviously is much more, far more respected across the party."

She said that was why she needed to take some time to consider a bid.

Ms Forbes said she was not ruling herself out. "I'm still considering all the options, but I also know that there is a lot of support for me across the country and across the party, and last year proved that.

"What's key now is to think about what the next few months hold and to ensure that the party is able to move forward to fight that election and to ensure we have the trust of the people."

Former deputy first minister John Swinney said he is weighing up whether running for SNP leader would be the right thing for “my family, my party and my country”.

Speaking to journalists in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Mr Swinney said: “I’m giving it all a great deal of thought to make sure that I come to the right decision for my family, my party and my country.”

The longtime MSP declined to stand in the leadership race last year, saying it was time for a new generation of SNP members to come to the fore.

Asked what had changed, he said: “Events change, don’t they? Nothing ever remains the same.

“What’s changed is that my party finds itself in a very different and more difficult situation than it found itself in 12 months ago.

“I would not be doing a service to the many, many, many people who have contacted me, asking me to stand, and if I don’t think about this properly, it wouldn’t be my style to ignore the representations made to me – I’m someone who listens and addresses the points that are put to me and that’s exactly what I’m doing just now.”

Mr Swinney served as the SNP's leader between 2000 and 2004 before being ousted by unhappy colleagues after a string of disappointing election results.