Russell Findlay is being lined up to replace Douglas Ross as the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, according to well-placed sources. 

The "powers-that-be in the Scottish party” reportedly see the West Scotland MSP as a “continuity candidate.”

The former journalist refused to comment on the speculation when approached by The Herald last night, though declined to rule out a bid for the top job. 

He said he was “focused on the General Election" and that discussions about the future of the party were "not helpful when Scottish Conservative candidates are standing to beat the SNP.”

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Mr Findlay has only been in Holyrood for three years but has impressed colleagues and commentators. 

Writing in today’s The Herald, Andy Maciver, the former head of communications for the party, described him as “sharp and very able, with impeccable unionist credentials.”

Mr Ross stunned colleagues on Monday when he announced that he would be stepping down as leader of the Scottish Tories after the General Election.

The decision to quit came after he upset some of his MSPs by making a bid for Westminster, despite previously promising to commit his energies to being leader of the Tory group at the Scottish Parliament in the run-up the 2026 election. 

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What made his colleagues particularly uneasy is that he is standing in the new Aberdeenshire North and Moray East constituency, replacing David Duguid, who was ousted as the candidate by the Party’s Management Board for being too sick.

Mr Duguid - who is recovering in hospital from an illness affecting his spine - insisted he was well enough to stand.

One person in the party was so unhappy they leaked information about Mr Ross’s expenses to the Sunday Mail, including suggestions that he broke parliamentary rules by claiming for travel to football matches where he was working as a referee.

Mr Ross denied any wrongdoing, but the allegations ultimately proved to be the tipping point.

In his column, published in today's paper, Mr Maciver said a number of contacts had told him that supporters of Mr Ross "and by extension the powers-that-be in the Scottish party, many of whom are based at Westminster" had chosen Mr Finlday as their "continuity candidate to succeed him.”

"Mr Findlay, from the 2021 intake, has made a name for himself," he added.

“Sharp and very able, with impeccable unionist credentials, he would be an excellent choice to carry on the work of his predecessors as an anti-independence agitator.”

Any leadership contest will not start until early July and could last until November if more than one candidate throws their hat into the ring.

Adding to the chaos around Mr Ross's resignation are the tensions in the Holyrood group over the future of the Westminster party and fears over a lurch to the right if the election goes as badly as the polls predict.

Mr Maciver said he believed more than half of the Holyrood group now “question the value of a relationship with the UK party.”

He warned that the Tories have little chance of ever being anything other than a party of opposition unless they consider radical change.

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Mr Maciver said the party needed to ask itself an “existential question”.

“Are you unionists, perpetually re-fighting a battle against nationalists which you’ve already won?

“Or are you conservatives, fighting a battle against the left which you have to win if you want to be in power?”

Murdo Fraser previously suggested a new centre-right party more attuned to the Scottish political landscape as part of his platform during the 2011 leadership contest.

The proposal was roundly rejected by members.

Mr Findlay told The Herald: “I’m focused on the General Election. Any discussions about the future of the party are not helpful when Scottish Conservative candidates are standing to beat the SNP.”