TWO possible candidates for the post of First Minister have ruled themselves out – and backed current deputy Nicola Sturgeon to take on the top job.
It had been suggested that both Alex Neil, who succeeded Ms Sturgeon as Health Secretary, and minister for external affairs and international development Humza Yousaf, could be in line to take over from Alex Salmond, who is stepping down in the wake of the referendum defeat.
But both men have now said they will not stand for the position of leader of the SNP and new First Minister.
Mr Neil told the Scotland on Sunday newspaper: “I am not standing. I will support Nicola.
“I think it is time we had a woman First Minister, she is absolutely the right person for the job to succeed.”
Meanwhile, Mr Yousaf announced on Twitter: “For all journalists that are still calling about the leadership let me be clear: No ifs, no buts, no mibbees – I am Team Sturgeon”.
Ms Sturgeon has not yet said if she will put herself forward for the post of SNP leader and First Minister, but after serving for ten years as Mr Salmond’s deputy she is the overwhelming favourite to succeed him.
She paid tribute to the man she hailed as her “friend, mentor and colleague” on Friday, after he announced his intention to resign.
Ms Sturgeon added that she could “think of no greater privilege than to seek to lead the party I joined when I was just 16”.
But she said that decision was for another day, stating she wanted to rest after the long referendum campaign and “also want the focus over the next few days to be on the outstanding record and achievements of the finest First Minister Scotland has had”.
Community safety minister Roseanna Cunningham, who stood for the leadership of the SNP against Mr Salmond in 2004, has already made clear she will not be putting herself forward for the job.
A spokesman said: “Roseanna wants to make it quite clear that she has absolutely no intention or desire to stand for either the leadership or the deputy leadership of the party.
“There are talented individuals within the party who can fill those roles and she looks forward to working with them to continue to advance the cause of Scotland, the SNP and independence.”