KEITH Brown has announced he will not be standing to become SNP leader and first minister.

There had been speculation the party's depute leader, who has been an MSP since 2007, could put himself forward to replace Nicola Sturgeon after receiving support from members, parliamentary colleagues and senior office bearers.

But he said on Twitter he felt he could better serve the party in his current post.

Brown has said he will not endorse any particular candidate.

He said on Twitter: "Over recent days I have been delighted to receive many calls from SNP members, parliamentary colleagues and senior office bearers to stand for the position of party leader, following Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement of her resignation.

"I have come to the conclusion that, as depute leader, I can best serve the interests of the SNP by supporting the party through the forthcoming process, and providing a degree of continuity as we come to terms with Nicola’s resignation.

"I believe that we can and must move on to the exciting opportunities ahead in building further support for an independent Scotland. In doing so, we must never forget our responsibilities to the people of Scotland as their elected government.

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"As Depute Leader, I will not publicly endorse any candidate, but would appeal to all members to get involved in a robust but respectful contest as we progress the case for Scotland’s independence."

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf and former community safety minister Ash Regan are the only two MSPs so far to announce bids for the SNP leadership.