SCOTTISH Labour leader Anas Sarwar has insisted he’ll “certainly” be the next first minister after the 2026 Holyrood election.

Speaking to The Stooshie podcast by DC Thomson, Sarwar claimed he would replace Nicola Sturgeon despite having just 22 MSPs in Holyrood – roughly a third of what the SNP have.

READ MORE: Former Orange Order chief Henry Dunbar stands for Scottish Labour in local elections

The Scottish Conservatives are the second-largest party in the Parliament with 31 MSPs.

The most recent Scottish Parliament voting intention polling, which came mid-January at the height of the partygate scandal, suggested that Labour could pick up one extra seat, which 20% support in the regional vote and 22% in the constituencies.

This is roughly the same as the support they achieved last May – which was actually their worst ever Holyrood election result – suggesting the party has not recorded a popularity boost under Sarwar’s leadership.

However, speaking on the eve of his party’s conference in Glasgow, Sarwar sounded confident about his political future.

Asked by David Clegg whether he thinks he is Scotland’s next first minister, Sarwar quickly replied: “Yes. Certainly after the next election.

The National:

“I can't speak for before that. I'll give you a straight up answer in terms of yes, that has to be our ambition. Because you have to want to win."

Despite this, Sarwar did accept there is work to do before Labour wins mass support in Scotland again.

SNP MSP Siobhian Brown told The National that Sarwar's comments were "laughable".

"Having just suffered their worst result at Holyrood in the history of devolution, Scottish Labour are currently struggling to be the second biggest party in Holyrood - never mind forming a government," she said.

"Labour in Scotland will continue to slide into irrelevance in Scotland as they continually advocate for Scotland being ruled by Westminster control.

"Until Scottish Labour recognise the will of the Scottish people to put their future in their hands, then Anas Sarwar will continue to be the leader of the third-placed party in Scotland."

Sarwar's claims came before he formally unveiled the new red and purple logo on the first day of conference.

It is understood focus groups found that the rose, introduced around 1986, did not resonate with people in Scotland.

The National:

The rebrand is part of moves to modernise the party and bosses hope the new emblem will help to present the image of  Scottish identity.

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: “Scottish Labour is committed to transforming our party to win back the trust of the people to Scotland.

“We’re on the side of Scots, and hope they’ll join us so we can build the future together.

“To do that we need new ideas and new thinking. At Scottish Labour conference this week you will hear Anas Sarwar relentlessly focus on the future.”

In a separate interview with The Herald before the conference, Sarwar insisted that Labour candidates must support the Union.

"We have stood candidates in recent elections who had voted Yes in the referendum, who had previously supported independence but now support Scotland staying part of the UK,” he said.

"So the point I make is nobody asks the SNP to stand pro-UK candidates in their election campaign," he said.

"I am not going to pretend I am something I am not. I am not going to pretend we believe in something we don't.

"And I am not going to pretend there is some quick fix. We are a pro-UK party. We want to fundamentally reform and renew the UK. And we will try and persuade people to come with us to build that journey together."