Andrew Bowie is backing former Chancellor Rishi Sunak to become the next Conservative prime minister due to his “proven” track record of acting in a crisis and says that based on counts, Mr Sunak has already surpassed the support threshold to stand in the leadership contest and could face Penny Mordaunt for the bid to replace Liz Truss.
However, opposition parties have said it would be undemocratic to appoint another Tory leader without going to the public, but the West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP said the country needed “stability” which would not be delivered by a looming election.
Speaking on BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland, Mr Bowie, who backed Sunak over Truss, said: “A general election, even for a snap general election, by law necessitates six weeks of campaigning. That is six weeks when parliament isn’t sitting and six weeks where government isn’t getting down to business.”
He added: “We need a period of stability and certainty. And that means getting back down to sober, serious government in the national interest, and that would be the least well-served by going to the country right now in a snap general election.”
“A general election will take place one day within the next few years and the British people will get their say on whether or not we have delivered on our manifesto commitment and have a plan for this country,” he said.
“And we will live or die by the verdict of the British people when that time comes.”
Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, said: “The last thing the country needs is another unelected Tory in Downing Street”.
He said: “If Tory MPs have any respect for democracy, they’ll put pressure on the new prime minister to immediately call a general election.”
Mr Blackford has also written to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, urging him to push for a vote of no confidence in the Tories, which could lead to a general election.
As the leader of the opposition in the House of Commons, Sir Keir is the only MP who can submit the formal vote of no confidence motion.
Former prime minister Boris Johnson had also been expected to put his name on the ballot but he withdrew from the race on Sunday.
Mr Bowie said he believed it was “the right thing to do”.
Mr Johnson said that, despite securing the 100 nominations needed to get onto the ballot paper, it would “simply not be the right thing to do” as he insisted “you can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in Parliament”.
Rishi Sunak has become the firm frontrunner to be the next prime minister after Boris Johnson ended his comeback bid and rival Penny Mordaunt battled to win sufficient support from Tory MPs.
A Government source said the new prime minister could be in place as soon as Monday if the Tory leadership contest does not progress further after Liz Truss resigned after just 44 days in charge.