Former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has refused to say who she hopes is named as her successor on Friday.
Current interim leader Jackson Carlaw is the firm favourite to beat challenger Michelle Ballantyne when the party’s next leader is announced.
Speaking to DC Thomson Media politics podcast The Stooshie this week, Ms Davidson said she would continue to be an active member of the Conservatives after she steps down as an MSP in March 2021.
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She added she was remaining neutral as to who should replace her as party leader.
“As a former leader I have stayed scrupulously neutral during the campaign, the same way Annabel Goldie – my predecessor – did in 2011 when there were four of us vying for the job,” she said.
“I think the campaign shows the depth of talent we have. Jackson has been an MSP for a long time. He stepped in when I was on maternity leave and has been deputy leader for eight years during the big successes we had.
“Michelle, she is a bit newer in the parliament but a lot of her experience is from outside of it. She has worked as a nurse and businesswoman and been a health manager in addiction services. She has a huge amount of real-world experience as well.
“It shows the strength and depth of the party.”
Asked if the successful candidate will survive in post past 2021 should the party not do as well as it did in 2017, Ms Davidson said: “I expect us to do better. I would love to believe no-one could beat my high point but I don’t believe that and there is more to come from the Scottish Conservatives.”
She added: “Political parties aren’t about the poster children, or whose face is on the front of the leaflet. Political parties are the activists and I might not be leader any more but I will always be an activist.”
SNP claim Davidson “shameless” to be open to peerage
Meanwhile, the SNP have criticised Ms Davidson after she revealed in the same Stooshie podcast that she would “seriously consider” accepting a peerage.
Rona Mackay MSP said: “It’s no surprise that the Tories are in it for themselves.
“What’s shocking is that Ruth Davidson doesn’t even pay lip service to the constituents she’s supposed to answer to.
“Accepting a seat in the old-fashioned House of Lords – and being handed a fat salary without any democratic accountability – would show just how shameless Ruth Davidson is.
“The House of Lords has no place in a modern democracy and erodes public trust in our politics – allowing the Westminster parties to reward selfish donors, cronies and politicians rejected by the voters.
“If Ruth Davidson isn’t willing to focus on representing her constituents, she should do the decent thing and stand down as an MSP so the people of Edinburgh Central can pick a representative who will.”