JOHN Swinney has said he is giving “active consideration” to calls from "many" MSPs for him to step in as SNP leader and first minister after Humza Yousaf’s resignation.

The former deputy first minister told Sky News that he had not yet made his mind up but said he would make a decision in the coming days. 

He said: "I’m giving very careful consideration to standing to being leader of the SNP. I’ve been somewhat overwhelmed by the requests that have been made of me to do that, with many, many messages from many colleagues across the party.

"So I’m giving that issue very active consideration and it’s likely I’ll have more to say about that in the days to come.

"I’ve got lots of things to think about, there’s the whole question of my family and I have to make sure that I do the right thing by my family, they’re precious to me. I have to do the right thing by my party and by my country."

He indicated that if he was elected first minister, he would run a minority administration and not get back into bed with the Scottish Greens

The National: Humza Yousaf

Swinney said there were "quite clearly strains" in the SNP's former power-sharing deal with the Greens and said those must be "handled with care". 

He added: "I spent a large amount of my time in government doing exactly that in the past so it’s important that those are the values and the characteristics that are brought to how we deal with other political parties and particularly now the SNP will be a minority government in the Scottish Parliament, it’s important that there is an approach taken which ensures that we work carefully with all political parties in the Scottish Parliament."

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf announces resignation as First Minister and SNP leader

But he firmly ruled out calling an early Holyrood election if he were to replace Yousaf, saying "we should see out" the five-year period, adding: "Yes there’s changes of personnel and leadership during that period but the Parliament was elected for five years and it should sit for five years."

Swinney signalled that he would run a government in the "mainstream" of public opinion and seek to work with all opposition parties. 

He said: "The Scottish Government in the years ahead is going to have to find agreement with people of other persuasions because you can’t pass a budget without a majority in Parliament.

"You can’t pass a law without a majority in Parliament, so it’s really important that we work with other political parties to make sure that we are in a position to govern effectively and wisely in the interests of everyone within Scotland.”

READ MORE: Who should replace Humza Yousaf as SNP leader? Have your say

He added: "I’ve always believed that the right place for the Scottish National Party is as a moderate left-of-centre political party in the mainstream tradition of Scottish public opinion.

The National: John Swinney

"You only ever win success if you’re in line with the mainstream of public opinion in the country and that’s where I’ve always endeavoured to make sure the SNP was positioned and I think that’s where the SNP should be positioned in the future."

Swinney has the strong backing of key figures in the SNP establishment and is widely viewed as both a unifying figure and a safe pair of hands. 

He served as SNP leader before from 2000 to 2004 but resigned after poor election results. 

Swinney stood steadfast by Nicola Sturgeon during her premiership as her deputy first minister and was her closest confidant.