David Mundell suggested last night that Andrea Leadsom would have become the Tories’ Jeremy Corbyn had she not quit the race for Number 10.
The Scottish secretary described the “current chaos” in the Labour party as a “wake-up” call.
And he insisted there would not be a snap general election, stressing Theresa May would put “stability first”.
He told the Press and Journal: “Andrea Leadsom realised that she did not have the support of MPs and that if she had carried on and even won the members’ vote, we would have been in exactly the same position as the Labour party.
“What is happening to Labour is just a wake-up call for everyone that we could not proceed on that basis.
“Theresa May is the person most qualified to do the job from day one and day one will be tomorrow.”
Mr Mundell said an election “clearly would be an opportunity” for the Conservatives given the “current chaos Labour find themselves in”.
But he added: “Her priority will be and the right thing for the country is bringing about stability.
“You don’t do that by plunging us into an unscheduled general election.”
He said the “big ticket items” she would focus on were “stability first”, “getting the best (Brexit) deal for Britain and indeed Scotland” and “bringing unity to the party and country”.
During the leadership contest, Mrs May ruled out an early general election, saying that not holding one would create stability during Brexit negotiations.
Yesterday she reportedly told the 1922 committee: “We are going to have more colleagues joining us on the green benches in 2020.”
The comment was widely interpreted as a strong hint there would be no snap election.