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John Swinney elected as Scotland’s new leader



LONDON: Scotland got its second leader in as many years on Tuesday, as parliament approved political veteran John Swinney to lead the country as first minister.

Swinney, 60, succeeds Humza Yousaf, who formally resigned from the role earlier in the day, following his announcement last week that he would step down after just over a year in charge.

Yousaf, 39, announced his resignation last Monday before a confidence vote in the Scottish parliament that he was set to lose, having ditched his junior coalition partners, the Scottish Green Party, in a row over climate policy.

Swinney won the backing of 64 members of the Scottish parliament (MSPs) in the vote that was all but a foregone conclusion, with nearest rival Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross picking up 31. The Scottish political veteran, said it was “something of a surprise” to find himself taking the top job at his stage of his career, but added it was “an extraordinary privilege”.

“I am here to serve you. I will give everything I have to build the best future for our country,” he told MSPs after accepting the nomination.

Swinney, an old party hand who led the ruling pro-independence Scottish Natio­nal Party (SNP) from 2000 to 2004 when the nationalists were in opposition, was elected unopposed as leader of the SNP on Monday. He is seen as an experienced operator able to reach across the political divide, which is key to the SNP being able to rule as a minority government.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2024

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