Nicola Sturgeon resigns: Who are the candidates to replace Scotland’s First Minister?

Nicola Sturgeon resigns: Who are the candidates to replace Scotland’s First Minister?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is standing down as the leader of Scotland after eight years.

She is the first female head of the devolved parliament and its longest-serving leader.

Speaking from her official Bute House residence in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said she would remain in office while the Scottish National Party (SNP) selects her successor.

Who are the likely successors?

Deputy First Minister John Swinney

He has been her deputy since 2014.

He previously served as Scotland’s finance secretary from 2007 to 2016 and education secretary from 2016 to 2021.

Mr Swinney was SNP leader in 2000 but stepped down in 2004 after disappointing election results.

Health and Social Care Secretary Humza Yousaf

Mr Yousaf was appointed in May 2021 and was the youngest MSP elected to the Scottish Parliament, aged 26.

Now 37, he has served in numerous roles and in 2018 he became cabinet secretary for justice.

He introduced the controversial Hate Crime Bill.

Finance and Economy Secretary Kate Forbes

She has been Finance Secretary since 2021. She was elected in 2016 and was a convener of the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party group on Gaelic.

At 32, she would be Scotland’s youngest leader if she wins.

She is on maternity leave after the birth of her first child and that could affect her decision to run or not.

External Affairs and Culture Secretary Angus Robertson

He has spent many years at both Westminster and Holyrood and was a big factor in the party’s push for a second referendum on independence.

Joanna Cherry MP

A prominent MP in London who has clashed with Ms Sturgeon on some issues. She was first elected to Edinburgh South West in 2015.

At Westminster she has represented the SNP with the shadow role at Justice and the Home office.

She is a lawyer but not an MSP.

Stephen Flynn MP

Another possible who is not a MSP.

Mr Flynn is the new leader of the party in Westminster and the MP for Aberdeen South.

He took over from Ian Blackford, a key Sturgeon ally.

It is not clear how much support candidates not in the Holyrood bubble will manage to secure.

Mairi McAllan MSP

The MSP for Clydesdale is 30 and was first elected in 2021.

She has been a special adviser to Ms Sturgeon but it might be too soon to win the top job.

Why is Ms Sturgeon resigning now?

Ms Sturgeon said she had been wrestling with the decision for weeks, but decided it was the right time for herself, her party and the country.

She said: “In my head and in my heart I know that time is now. That it is right for me, for my party and for the country.

“And so today I am announcing my intention to step down as First Minister and leader of my party.”

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