Michelle Ballantyne confirms Scottish Tory leadership bid

Scottish Tory social security spokeswoman Michelle Ballantyne has joined the contest to become her party's next leader.

The social security spokeswoman for the Scottish Conservatives has joined the contest to become the party’s next leader.

MSP Michelle Ballantyne confirmed her bid to become leader on Tuesday.

Jackson Carlaw, currently the interim leader of the Scottish Conservatives following Ruth Davidson’s resignation, is already seen as the front-runner.

But Ballantyne, who highlighted her previous experience as an NHS nurse and businesswoman, said having a coronation may not deliver the “best outcome”.

She said she was “not a career politician” and that she had “principles founded in the real world”.

Ballantyne, who previously caused controversy when she defended the two-child cap imposed by the UK Government on some welfare payments, said there was “work to do” for the Tories if they were to beat the SNP and win power at Holyrood in the 2021 Scottish elections.

But she added she was “up for the fight”.

Writing in the The Daily Telegraph, she said: “If the Scottish Conservatives are to be serious about levelling up and defeating the SNP in 2021 there is work to do, and I believe I have the background, the experience and the ability to lead the Scottish Conservatives from a party of opposition to a party of government.”

Carlaw became the first candidate to enter the Tory leadership contest when he confirmed he would be standing on Monday morning.

He stressed the need to “take the fight to Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP” and also said the Scottish Conservatives must broaden their platform and diversify the party.

Nominations close at noon on Friday January 17, with those looking to be the next leader needing to secure the support of at least 100 party members.

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