Nicola Sturgeon sends resignation letter to King and leaves Bute House
It’s Nicola Stur-gone! Outgoing First Minister sends resignation letter to the King and bids emotional farewell to Bute House as she hands over to Humza Yousaf… leaving him to pick up the pieces of shattered SNP
- Nicola Sturgeon has stepped down after serving as First Minister since 2014
An emotional Nicola Sturgeon drew a line under her time as Scottish First Minister today as she hands over to Humza Yousaf.
The former SNP leader walked out of the Bute House residence in Edinburgh for the last time this afternoon – after saying she is looking forward to having a lie-in.
In her final acts in charge, Ms Sturgeon sent a resignation letter to King Charles saying it had been a ‘pleasure’ to serve.
She walked down the stairs, where a nail has already been installed ready to hang a picture of Mr Yousaf, and bade farewell to staff.
Her departure will take effect when a vote at Holyrood confirms Mr Humza as the next First Minister – even though he will not be sworn in until tomorrow.
In her final acts in charge, Nicola Sturgeon sent a resignation letter to King Charles saying it had been a ‘pleasure’ to serve
Ms Sturgeon’s departure will take effect when a vote at Holyrood confirms as the next First Minister – even though he will not be sworn in until tomorrow
She walked down the stairs, where a nail has already been installed ready to hang a picture of Mr Yousaf, and bade farewell to staff
Ms Sturgeon was given a guard of honour by staff as she left Bute House this afternoon
The former SNP leader walked out of the Bute House residence in Edinburgh for the last time this afternoon – after saying she is looking forward to having a lie-in
Mr Yousaf will be confirmed as Scotland’s new First Minister today after scraping home in the SNP leadership battle yesterday (pictured)
Nicola Sturgeon tweeted to say she had officially tendered her resignation to the King
In her letter to the King, Ms Sturgeon wrote: ‘I should wish to reiterate that it has been my pleasure to serve Your Majesty, Her Majesty the Queen and the people of Scotland as First Minister since November 2014.’
In a separate statement released, Ms Sturgeon added that being first minister was ‘the privilege of a lifetime’, adding: ‘As the first woman to hold this office, I am proud to demit it knowing that no girl in our country is in any doubt that a woman can hold the highest office in the land.
‘My congratulations go to Humza Yousaf who, subject to parliamentary process and appointment by His Majesty the King, will become the first person from a minority ethnic background to lead our country as its First Minister – and in doing so will reiterate the powerful message that it is a role that any young person in Scotland can aspire to.’
However, Mr Yousaf faces a mammoth task to revive the separatists’ ailing fortunes after an extraordinary meltdown over the abortive bid to loosen gender ID rules, and with support for independence well under 50 per cent.
He only narrowly won the SNP leadership contest yesterday, and has already pledged to push on with Ms Sturgeon’s agenda on trans rights and demanded an immediate referendum on splitting the UK – something Rishi Sunak has flatly dismissed.
Allies of Mr Yousaf – ridiculed by political opponents over his track record as a ‘gaffe machine’ – indicated he is likely to hand a senior job to his leadership rival Kate Forbes. She tore into his record handling the health service during the campaign, and has warned the closer-than-expected 52 per cent to 48 per cent result shows ‘continuity won’t cut it’.
Critics have also pointed out that Mr Yousaf only just emerged on top despite having that backing of ‘the entire SNP establishment’.
Tories believe that Mr Yousaf’s triumph will help secure the union, as Ms Forbes would have been a more dangerous opponent. However, it could also be a major opportunity for Labour, which is eyeing picking up a dozen seats north of the border at a general election.
The 37-year-old will be the youngest First Minister, and the first from an ethnic minority.
Douglas Ross of the Scottish Conservatives, Anas Sarwar of Scottish Labour and Alex Cole-Hamilton of the Scottish Liberal Democrats are also expected to put their names forward.
They will be asked to speak by Alison Johnstone – the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament – with a separate vote for each, but as they lack the numbers they are set to fail.
Mr Yousaf has the backing of the Scottish Greens, who have reiterated their commitment to the Bute House Agreement – a powersharing deal which gives the SNP an overall majority.
Assuming he wins the vote Mr Yousaf will be sworn in as first minister of Scotland at the Court of Session in Edinburgh tomorrow, before facing his first FMQs on Thursday.
But an Ipsos poll has underlined the challenges ahead of him, with half of Scots fearing the country is heading in the wrong direction.
Across all policy areas – from the NHS to managing the economy – more felt the Scottish Government had done a bad job than good.
Election guru Sir John Curtice said Labour now has an opportunity to win at least 10 Scottish seats in a general election.
Sir John, who is professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, told TalkTV: ‘I think the Labour Party will certainly feel they have an opportunity and they are quite right to feel that way.
Allies of Mr Yousaf – ridiculed by political opponents over his track record as a ‘gaffe machine’ – indicated he is likely to hand a senior job to his leadership rival Kate Forbes (right)
Ms Forbes tore into Mr Yousaf’s record handling the health service during the campaign, and has warned the close 52 per cent-48 per cent result shows ‘continuity won’t cut it’
‘They are now running at about 30 per cent in Scotland. That leaves them only 10 points behind the SNP.
‘The reason why that matters is that at kind of level of lead, the Labour Party begins to pick up seats from the SNP.
‘There are around 10 seats in Scotland which might fall to Labour if the SNP lead across Scotland as a whole is down to 10 points.’
He added: ‘The Labour Party is the one unionist party that has some ability to appeal to some people who are in favour of independence but are not necessarily going to vote for the SNP.
‘The crucial question is whether the Labour Party can increase that constituency.’
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