RUTH Davidson has been branded “arrogant and deluded” after she claimed the Scottish Tories will use a conference next week to present themselves as the next Scottish government.

The Conservative leader made the claim ahead of a gathering of activists in Aberdeen on Friday and Saturday. Davidson described the event as the first time in some 30 years where the Tories have been able to cast themselves in that role, drawing scorn from the SNP.

Davidson has supposedly been marked out as a rising star in the UK Tory Party but while there has been speculation that she could stand as an MP in England, she insisted her sights are set on being Scotland’s next first minister.

Speaking to Holyrood magazine, Davidson said: “This conference we’re having is going to be really important for us because it’s the first time in 30 years, maybe, that you’ve got a group of Scottish Conservatives getting together and saying, ‘how do we form the next government of Scotland?’

“That’s an ambitious belief that we’ve never allowed ourselves to have before.”

While Davidson said the conference would feature debates on issues traditionally popular with Tory supporters, such as law and order and the economy, she added that there would also be a focus on the environment and rural economies.

Davidson said: “We’re doing big strands in areas of social and public services. These are areas that would not ordinarily be associated with us but we recognise we’ve got to have a full policy provision to stand up in 2021 and say, ‘we are an alternative government for Scotland’. That’s the next step.”

MSP Kevin Stewart provided the SNP’s response. He said: “Ruth Davidson is arrogant and deluded if she thinks a party willing to cut the NHS to the bone to pay for tax cuts for the richest is fit to hold office in Scotland.

“And if she can’t even command the loyalty of her Westminster MPs, what on Earth makes her think she is fit to lead the country?

“Tory support has hit the buffers as people realise the damage they’re willing to inflict on Scotland’s economy with their plans for a hard Brexit.

“That’s why they’ve slipped back into third place in the polls.”