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Humza Yousaf quits as Scotland’s first minister



By Stuart Nicolson, BBC Scotland News

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf announces his resignation during a statement, at Bute House, in Edinburgh, on 29 April 2024.

The search has begun for a new first minister of Scotland following Humza Yousaf’s announcement of his intention to quit the role.

He made the decision after spending the weekend reflecting on what was best for the SNP, the government and Scotland.

Yousaf concluded that someone else would need to take over in order to “repair our relationship across the political divide”.

John Swinney and Kate Forbes are two SNP MSPs being talked of for the role.

Swinney was a political veteran of his party and was its leader at the turn of the century. He resigned the post in the summer of 2004 and was succeeded by Alex Salmond.

Forbes was a former SNP leadership candidate, losing to Yousaf in the ballot which was held just over a year ago.

The decision by Scotland’s first minister to go followed the collapse of the SNP’s power-sharing deal with the Greens.

Yousaf’s decision to abruptly end the agreement just 48 hours after saying he had no intention of doing so angered the Greens and left him struggling to secure enough support in order to lead a a minority government.

He had been facing two votes of no confidence later this week that he was not certain to win, with the Greens saying they would vote to remove him as first minister.

Yousaf insisted on Friday of last week that he would win the confidence votes and “absolutely” lead the SNP into the general election and the 2026 Holyrood election.

First Muslim to lead a major UK party

Speaking at his official Bute House residence in Edinburgh as he announced his resignation on Monday, he admitted that he had “clearly under-estimated” the hurt he had caused the Greens by ending the agreement in the manner that he did.

He said: “After spending the weekend reflecting on what is best for my party, for the government and for the country I lead, I’ve concluded that repairing our relationship across the political divide can only be done with someone else at the helm.

“I have therefore informed the SNP’s national secretary of my intention to stand down as party leader.”

His resignation comes just 13 months after Yousaf won the contest to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as first minister and SNP leader after narrowly defeating Kate Forbes in what had been a fractious leadership race.

He became the first ethnic minority leader of a devolved government in the UK and the first Muslim to lead a major UK party.

Within days of Yousaf’s appointment, Sturgeon’s home was searched by police and her husband Peter Murrell – the SNP’s chief executive at the time – arrested as part of an ongoing investigation into the SNP’s funding and finances.

Sturgeon was also later arrested but has not been charged with any offences. Murrell has been charged with embezzlement.

It was not clear who was likely to replace Yousaf – but they will be the seventh person to hold the post of first minister since the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999.

Former SNP leader John Swinney, who served as deputy first minister to Sturgeon, has already said he was actively considering standing and had received the backing of a number of influential figures within the party.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has ruled himself out and was among those backing Swinney for the job, but Forbes had been tipped to stand again.

She remained a divisive figure within the party over her views on social issues including trans rights and gay marriage, and was likely to be unpalatable to the Greens, but her supporters have said they expect her to put her name forward.


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