Humza Yousaf, new leader of the SNP

Humza Yousaf announced as new SNP leader

The race to become the new leader of the Scottish National Party ended this afternoon, with Humza Yousaf being announced as the replacement to the outgoing Nicola Sturgeon.

Yousaf brought in 26,032 of the second preference votes, with Kate Forbes coming in second with 23,890 votes. Third place went to Ash Regan, who was eliminated in the first round

Serving as the Cabinet Secretary for Justice from 2018 to 2021, Yousaf became the first South Asian and the first Muslim cabinet secretary in the Scottish Government. Following re-election in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election, he became the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care after Jeane Freedman stood down.

Prior to the election taking place, Yousaf said in a statement on the SNP website that he plans to build don the progressive agenda that has been central to the party dominating Scottish politics, as well as building a “Wellbeing Economy” that intends to put people first and give very child a best start to life.

In his speech after the result was announced, Yousaf said:

“I am not just humbled, of that I most certainly am, I also feel like the luckiest man in the world to be standing here as the leader of the SNP; a party I joined almost 20 years ago and that I love so dearly.

“Friends it was the late John Smith, and he got it absolutely right, when he said that the opportunity to serve our country is all we ask. To serve my country as First Minister will be the greatest privilege and honour of my life.”

Nicola Sturgeon announced that she would be resigning in February, however she also stated that she would remain in the post until a new leader was found. In her resignation statement, Sturgeon said that being First Minister was the “best job in the world” whilst going on to say that “It has always been my belief that no one individual should be dominant in any system for too long. But, as a leader, while it’s easy to hold that view in the abstract, it is harder to live by it. I consider this decision to be the right one for me, my party and the country.”

It is not a given that the new leader of the Scottish National Party will become First Minister, however it would be extraordinary if Yousaf did not take up the role after his victory this afternoon. Tomorrow, the decision will go to Scottish Parliament and, considering the majority that the SNP holds, it is expected that the new First Minister will be announced as Humza Yousaf.

Speaking about the vote to decide whether he will take up the role as Scottish leader, Yousaf said that he intends to be “a leader for all of Scotland” and will lead the country, and the party, in the interest of everybody and not just those who voted for him.

Following the former First Minister’s announcement of resignation, Deputy First Minister John Swinney followed suit, undertaking his final ministerial engagement earlier today.

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