EAST Lothian Conservatives have selected South of Scotland MSP Derek Brownlee as the party’s candidate to fight next year’s Holyrood election - while ex-East Lothian Council leader David Berry has been successful in his bid to become the Scottish National Party’s candidate.

Mr Brownlee, a dad-of-one who lives with his family in Edinburgh, has been MSP for the South of Scotland, which includes East Lothian, since 2005.

The 36-year-old, a chartered accountant by profession, is the Scottish Conservatives’ shadow cabinet secretary for finance and sustainable growth and sits on the Parliament’s finance committee as well as being a member of the Scottish Conservative’s shadow cabinet team.

He said: “I am delighted that the local members in East Lothian have selected me to contest the Scottish Parliament election next May.

“The UK General Election result in East Lothian shows beyond doubt that the alternative to Labour in East Lothian is the Conservatives.

“I intend to work hard to build on the strong campaign which Michael Veitch fought in the Westminster Election and I look forward to meeting as many local residents as possible over the next few months.

“Labour should not take East Lothian for granted - with the Conservatives in a strong second place there is everything to fight for.” Meanwhile, the Courier has learned that David Berry, North Berwick councillor and former council leader, will take on Mr Brownlee and sitting MSP Iain Gray in next May’s poll. Mr Berry received more votes from party members than sole rival, Euro MP Alyn Smith, of Edinburgh.

Mr Berry, who could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, had said in an interview with the Courier that he was “tired of people representing East Lothian who are not from East Lothian” and insisted that he was the better choice because “he (Mr Smith) is not from here and he doesn’t understand it”.

Councillor Paul McLennan, who succeeded Mr Berry as council leader, said: “Our constituency party looks forward to May 2011 where we demonstrate the successes of the SNP Government in Holyrood and of the achievements of our coalition with the Lib Dems in the council.

“Dave Berry knows the area very well and the issues that residents are likely to raise.

“I look forward to campaigning with him in the lead up to May 2011.” The Liberal Democrats are due to announce their Holyrood candidate within the next fortnight and were preparing to hold a hustings as part of the selection process, featuring potential candidates, in the county this weekend.