Jackson Carlaw has stepped down as leader of the Scottish Conservatives, it has been announced.
The Conservative MSP, who was elected into the job in February, said he had reached the "painful conclusion that he was not the best person to lead the party going into next year's Holyrood elections".
He was elected to the party’s top job after a spell as interim leader following Ruth Davidson’s resignation. His exit comes less than a year before the next Scottish Parliament election, due to be held in May 2021.
In a statement, Carlaw said: “Nothing is more important to me than making the case for Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom.
“I believe the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party is the most important voice in Scotland for setting out that positive argument. I am clear that nothing must get in the way of doing so.
“In the last few weeks, I have reached a simple if painful conclusion – that I am not, in the present circumstances, the person best placed to lead that case over these next vital months in Scottish politics prior to the Holyrood elections.
“Given the importance I attach to the job, I’ve therefore decided to stand down with immediate effect.
“It is not an easy call but I have spent a lifetime in politics holding to the maxim that party and country comes first.
“I believe I am doing my duty by holding to that view now.”
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon has paid tribute on social media Carlaw, she said: "I wish Jackson Carlaw all the best. We’ve crossed swords politically on many occasions, but worked constructively on some issues too - he has, eg, been a strong voice for women suffering mesh complications. Leadership is a tough business and I’m sure his decision wasn’t easy."
The 61-year-old has been an MSP since 2007, first on the regional list for West of Scotland before winning the Eastwood constituency at the 2016 election. He was Davidson’s deputy and took the hot seat when she stepped down shortly after returning from maternity leave.