Newly appointed Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross will contest his old seat at next year’s Holyrood election.
Currently an MP for Moray, Mr Ross also said he will keep his place in Westminster after “making a commitment” to constituents to see out his five-year term.
Before taking his seat in the Commons by defeating then-SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson, Mr Ross represented the Highlands and Islands in the Scottish Parliament.
Because his party had already selected local councillor Tim Eagle to stand for the Scottish Tories in Moray in May, Mr Ross has opted to seek re-election in his previous seat, rather than in the area where he is MP.
He said he would be announcing his front bench team in the coming days, but revealed former party leader Ruth Davidson – who will fill in at First Minister’s Questions until Mr Ross can win a seat of his own in the chamber – will not be his deputy.
Looking to next year’s election, Mr Ross said that the only party able to stop the SNP, who are on track for a majority according to two recent polls, was the Scottish Conservatives.
The surveys, released in June and July, also show support for Scottish independence sitting at 54% when undecided voters are removed.
Just hours after he was appointed leader in the uncontested race, Mr Ross told the PA news agency: “We have to remember that the SNP went into the last election, and Nicola Sturgeon led them into the last election, to a loss of their majority. Many people don’t remember that they went into the election with a majority and came out without one because of the huge increase of Scottish Conservative MSPs.
“The message is very clear: if people want to stop the SNP, the only party that is capable of doing it and has done it in the past is the Scottish Conservatives.”
Since 2016, the SNP has won a majority of Scottish seats in Westminster elections, most recently in December last year where they took 48 of Scotland’s 59 constituencies.
Mr Ross said the increase in support for the SNP, and by extension for the cause of independence, has been sparked because the First Minister and party leadership have been otherwise focused on the coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “The increase in support in opinion polls for separating Scotland from the rest of the UK has come at the same time that the SNP has not been concentrating on the arguments for separation.
“And I think that if people look again at the flimsy case for separating Scotland from the rest of the UK, then we will see a change in the polls.”
In response to his appointment, Mr Ross was described by SNP members as “Boris Johnson’s man”, who was “installed by Westminster”.
Rejecting the claims, Mr Ross accused the SNP of focusing on personal attacks against him rather than policy issues.
He added: “I’m not going to stoop to that level and I hope the SNP rise to the challenge to outline their positive vision for Scotland, rather than attacking me as a man.”