Humza Yousaf resigns as First Minister

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Humza Yousaf today resigned as First Minister, saying he was not willing to “trade my values and principles simply for retaining power”.

He will stay on in office until the SNP can elect a successor. Mr Yousaf was facing two votes of no confidence in the Scottish Parliament this week after last week’s scrapping of the SNP’s coalition with the Greens.

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He said a way through the votes of confidence was “absolutely possible”. But he had concuded that repairing relationships across the political divide “can only be done by someone else”.

Humza Yousaf has quit just days after he ended the SNP’s coalition with the Greens . Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/PA WireHumza Yousaf has quit just days after he ended the SNP’s coalition with the Greens . Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/PA Wire
Humza Yousaf has quit just days after he ended the SNP’s coalition with the Greens . Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/PA Wire | PA

It appeared Mr Yousaf’s only way of surviving seemed to be doing a deal with Edinburgh Eastern MSP Ash Regan of Alex Salmond's Alba party, but the idea of being beholden to the former SNP First Minister was described as “intolerable” by party sources.  

Mr Yousaf succeeded Nicola Sturgeon as  First Minister just 13 months ago. But he is two and a half weeks short of holding the record as Scotland's shortest-serving First Minister - his one year 31 days is longer than the one year 12 days for which Labour's Henry McLeish served. 

Potential candidates to succeed Mr Yousaf include former Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, who narrowly lost out to him in last year's contest, as well as Health Secretary Neil Gray, a close ally of Mr Yousaf's who switched from Westminster to Holyrood in 2021.

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Deputy First Minister John Swinney has also been floated as a potential successor, but he opted not to stand when Nicola Sturgeon resigned. And Mr Swinney - who was SNP leader from 2000 to 2004 - reportedly failed to rule out the possibility when asked about it this morning.

Other names mentioned include Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth and Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan.

But whoever takes over will find themselves in charge of a minority government - the SNP has 63 out of the 129 seats at Holyrood - and will need to secure support from other parties on an issue-by-issue basis.

Despite their anger over the unilateral scrapping of the Bute House Agreement, the Greens remain the SNP’s most likely allies on most issues. Scottish Green co-leader said they “stand ready” to work with a new First Minister.

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But in a radio interview before Mr Yousaf’s resignation was confirmed, Mr Harvie also signalled the Greens would find it difficult to back Kate Forbes.

He said: “Last year Kate Forbes came out with some pretty shocking socially conservative views which have alienated a lot of her own colleagues, as well as seeming to criticise the progressive approach to taxation in Scotland. That kind of lurch to the right would be a mistake for the SNP's own interests, a mistake for the country, but also a mistake if they want to achieve stable minority government.”

Mr Yousaf's resignation follows a fraught few days after his decision on Thursday last week to end the SNP's power-sharing deal with the Scottish Greens. Within hours, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross announced he was tabling a motion of no confidence in the First Minister and the Greens - furious at their sudden dismissal from government - said they would back the vote.

Labour later piled on the pressure by announcing they would put forward a motion of no confidence in the whole Scottish Government.

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With no SNP majority in the Scottish Parliament and all the opposition parties ranged against him, Mr Yousaf's only hope of surviving was doing a deal with Edinburgh Eastern MSP Ash Regan, the sole representative of Alex Salmond's Alba party at Holyrood.

Ms Regan said she would want guarantees of progress on independence and a move away from "identity politics". But many in the SNP felt any deal with Alex Salmond was a step too far.

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