Angus Robertson’s SNP colleagues are “confident” his departure from frontline politics will only be temporary, after he quit as the party’s deputy leader at the weekend.
Mr Robertson had served as Moray MP for 17 years, becoming the Nationalists’ leader at Westminster, before being ousted in last year’s snap general election.
However, he remained as the party’s deputy leader until Saturday when he tendered his resignation.
Mr Robertson announced that he was stepping down with immediate effect to explore “new career opportunities”.
But Moray MSP, Richard Lochhead, believes it is only a matter of time before the 48-year-old re-enters the political arena.
He said: “Recent political events have led to what I am sure will only be a temporary absence from frontline politics, because he still has much to give and Scotland sorely misses his talents.”
SNP leader and First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, also said she hoped that Mr Robertson would make a return to politics “in the future”.
Mr Lochhead spent 11 years working alongside Mr Robertson as a Moray parliamentarian, and said he had become a “good friend” in that time.
He added: “Angus has been a tremendous servant to Moray and the SNP for 17 years.
“And he has played a significant role in transforming the SNP into the major political force we are today.”
Mr Robertson was one of the party’s most high-profile losses in the June election, alongside Alex Salmond who lost his Gordon seat.
Conservative Douglas Ross took the Moray constituency, while his Tory colleague Colin Clark defeated Mr Salmond at the polls.
Since losing his seat, Mr Robertson said he had been “focused on supporting campaign best practice for local SNP branches, constituency associations, elected members and the party nationally”.
Ms Sturgeon was among the first to pay tribute to Mr Robertson upon his resignation.
She told him: “Our political and electoral success over the last decade has been nothing short of extraordinary – and the party owes you an enormous debt of gratitude for the personal role you have played in bringing about that success.”
Just hours after making the announcement, Mr Robertson joined Nationalist stablemates – including Deputy First Minister John Swinney – for a Burns supper in Keith.