Senior Scottish Conservatives are warning their party against imposing a successor to Douglas Ross as leader without a contest.

Rachael Hamilton, shadow cabinet secretary for rural affairs and the islands, spoke out after her colleague Maurice Golden said on Sunday it was “incredibly important” for the Tories to have a race.

A third senior figure told The Herald that the idea the party would rally around a single figure was "for the birds".

The Conservatives suffered a crushing defeat to Labour last Thursday with Sir Keir Starmer ousting Rishi Sunak from power.

Mr Sunak apologised to his party following the Tories' result - the worst in its parliamentary history.

But north of the Border the Scottish Conservatives held onto five seats - down just one on their result in 2019.

Both the UK and Scottish Conservatives now have to chose new leaders with both Mr Sunak and Douglas Ross, the Scottish Conservative leader, announcing they will stand down.

Ms Hamilton, who is MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh Berwickshire, said: ""I'm delighted that we've held onto five seats in Scotland, however we must now regroup and look towards 2026 with a clear vision.

"We shouldn't rush into any rash decisions on leadership, but work on our success in Scotland. We want to see next leader work with the UK Conservative party to restore trust in our membership and electorate and reignite the belief we can represent their values."

Asked if her comments suggested she was not in favour of a coronation, she said: "Yes".

Meanwhile, another senior figure told The Herald: "People are exhausted after the election, so probably need a break before anything happens. 

"Any notion that there will be a continuity coronation is for the birds. There is a serious appetite for a proper contest and a healthy debate about how the party recovers and positions itself ahead of 2026. Any top-down attempt to do otherwise will not go down well at all and will probably achieve the opposite effect."

Their interventions come as Conservative MSP Maurice Golden also warned against a coronation.

“We haven't really had an introspective look at our party since Ruth Davidson's election over a decade ago,” he told the Herald on Sunday.

Mr Ross announced last month that he would step down as leader of the Scottish Tories after the General Election.

His 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 to the 2026 election.

What made his colleagues particularly uneasy was the decision to stand 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.

Mr Ross ultimately lost the seat by 942 votes.

Speaking to the Herald on Sunday, Mr Golden said the party needed to ditch its election strategy based on attacking the SNP’s push for independence.

“Well in advance of the election, I think Douglas and Craig [Hoy, the party chair] were predicting double figures. I think that would have been a good night. But, you know, it's a Westminster context. It's first past the post.

“For me, the 'no to indyref' message has, at least for the moment, had its day with the SNP collapse, and that's going to mean a lot of thinking and consideration around how we broaden our appeal and become more relevant to people across Scotland.

“And that's going to mean coming up with a strategy and policy thinking around health, education, agriculture, climate change, justice, that is centre, centre right and is appealing.

“It works across Europe in terms of a centre-right party of government or centre-right coalition government, and there's no reason why that couldn't be in play in Scotland.”

Last month The Herald reported that the Conservative MSP Russell Findlay is being lined up to replace Mr Ross.

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. 

However, should there be a contest, potential frontrunners could include Craig Hoy, the party chairman, Jamie Greene, the former justice spokesman, and deputy leader Meghan Gallacher.

A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: “The management board will meet soon to agree a timeline and format for the contest.”