SNP leadership: Edinburgh MSP Angus Robertson backs Humza Yousaf for SNP leader and First Minister
‘He is the only candidate to stand up to Westminster’s veto of Scottish legislation’
Edinburgh Central MSP and former SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson had endorsed Health Secretary Humza Yousaf to be the next SNP leader and First Minister.
Writing in today’s Evening News, he says he has listened to all three candidates – Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan – and was open to backing either Mr Yousaf or Ms Forbes. He writes: “To me it has has been important to hear about their policy priorities, their values and the team approach that they plan to take." But he concludes: “Humza Yousaf is the SNP leadership candidate with the strongest commitment to progressive values, the strongest membership backing from all levels of the SNP and is a committed team player. It has to be Humza.”
Mr Robertson, who is Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary, was an early favourite to take over from Nicola Sturgeon after she announced on February 15 that she would be standing down as party leader and First Minister. But he ruled himself out, saying that with two very young children the time was not right for him to take on such a big commitment.
Mr Robertson has been a key ally of the First Minister and was appointed to the Cabinet immediately after winning his Holyrood seat at the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections. Mr Yousaf is seen as the “continuity” candidate in the leadership race and the choice of the party establishment.
Explaining his decision to back Mr Yousaf, Mr Robertson writes: “The new SNP leader must represent an inclusive party that aspires to govern for the whole of Scotland, will seek to deliver on the manifesto they were elected on, have new progressive policy ideas and lead the broadest consensus in the party at all levels. Since the campaign has started I have been most impressed by Humza Yousaf who is the only candidate to stand up to Westminster’s veto of Scottish legislation, the only candidate who seeks to explicitly protect the rights of all in society and is committed to the stable pro-independence government at Holyrood."
He praises “positive new proposals” which Mr Yousaf has set out, including expansion of childcare for all 1 and 2 year olds, buying empty homes to house key workers and the Scottish Government taking an equity stake in Scotland's renewable energy potential. Mr Robertson notes that the only poll of SNP members published so far gives Mr Yousaf a nine-point lead among those who have decided which candidate they will vote for. “Meanwhile he has secured three times as many endorsements by parliamentarians than the other candidates combined. It is a similar story when it comes to councillors and leading SNP activists across the country with strong support from rural and urban Scotland alike.”
A series of hustings where the three candidates are quizzed by members is currently under way. Voting opens next Monday and closes on March 27, when the result will be announced.