KATE Forbes has confirmed she is standing for the SNP leadership, saying  she is someone the public can trust and who can unify the party.

It almost certainly means a three-way contest between Ms Forbes, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and fornmer minister Ash Regan.

Ms Forbes, the 32-year-old Skye MSP confirmed her move in a statement issued just as main rival, Mr Yousaf, launched his campaign.

The Finance Secretary, who will return early from maternity leave to run, said it was time to “unleash the full talent of the SNP, the wider Yes movement and the country at large”.

In an apparent dig at the Health Secretary, she also pledged to stand on a ticket of "competent leadership" in order to deliver independence.

Ms Yousaf, whose record as Health Secretary is expected to come under  close scrutiny in the coming weeks, is launching his campaign in Clydebank this morning.

Ms Regan is the third declared candidate but has yet to hold a launch event.

SNP Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson today ruled himself out, citing the responsibilities of a young family.

READ MORE: Angus Robertson rules himself out of SNP leadership contest

Ms Forbes said: “The nation and the Yes movement are at a major crossroads. The choices we make in the next few weeks will have a profound impact on our future and our children’s future 

“I cannot sit back and watch our nation thwarted on the road to self-determination. Our small, independent neighbours enjoy wealthier, fairer, and greener societies – and so can we. 

“We urgently need to unleash the full talent of the SNP, the wider Yes movement and the country at large. We need to choose strong, competent leadership to deliver independence – the leadership that I can offer.”

She continued: “I believe we need somebody who can unite the party and the Yes movement. I will reach out and listen so that every member feels valued and able to contribute.

"That is important within the party, but it is also important if we are to persuade others of the merits of independence. 

“We need a leader who is bold and brave and energised, who inspires confidence from the SNP membership and who inspires the confidence of the people of Scotland. From the youngest to the oldest, regardless of where you live or who you are.

READ MORE: The targeting of Kate Forbes shames the SNP and Scotland

"We need somebody who voters can trust, who has integrity and commitment. I am that leader – and I want to lead the party into better days.”