The SNP’s leader in Westminster has come out in support of Humza Yousaf in the race to succeed Nicola Sturgeon.
Stephen Flynn, who replaced Ian Blackford in leading the party’s MPs in the House of Commons in December, announced his backing for the health secretary on Saturday.
He said Yousaf was offering “hope for a better future”.
“Humza is someone who can provide that hope, his plans in respect of child care, have the potential to be transformative,” he told STV News.
“He really recognises the need for energy security and the green transition that needs to take place, which will protect jobs and opportunities here in my city of Aberdeen.
“And perhaps most important of all, he’ll be the person who can unite the SNP, who will respect and celebrate our record in government and hopefully take us to new and better times.
It comes after leadership candidate Ash Regan warned SNP members could leave the party if Yousaf becomes Scotland’s First Minister.
But Flynn, the MP for Aberdeen South, said he didn’t think it was “a risk at all” to back Yousaf.
“You know, I’m like all of our members, I have a say on this, I have one vote like they do,” he told STV News.
“I just think it’s important that they know my view as a senior figure within the party. Humza is someone that I can get behind. I believe he offers that hope for a better future.
“His proposals in respect of energy security and the green industrial strategy that I want to see going forward is something which entices me towards voting for Humza and I think it will entice other members too.”
According to a poll published on Thursday, finance secretary Kate Forbes is the public’s favourite to become the next First Minister of Scotland.
The Ipsos survey, commissioned on behalf of Channel 4 News, found she had an eight-point lead against Yousaf, her closest rival.
But the poll found Yousaf and Forbes were neck and neck among 2021 SNP voters, with 33% backing the health secretary and 32% backing the finance secretary.
Yousaf has previously described himself as the “continuity” candidate seeking to build upon Sturgeon’s electoral success.
But opponents Forbes and Regan have sought to distance themselves and promise “change” for the SNP.