Scotland’s First Minister set to resign

Humza Yousaf

HUMZA Yousaf is preparing to resign as Scotland’s First Minister after a catastrophic week which essentially left his fate in the hands of Alex Salmond’s Alba Party.

Mr Yousaf is facing two votes of no confidence in the wake of him ending the SNP’s power-sharing agreement with the Scottish Green Party on Thursday morning.

A close friend of the First Minister’s told The Times: “Humza knows what’s best for the country and the party. He is first party activist and a party man, and that’s why he knows it’s time for someone else.”

A vote of no confidence in the First Minister is expected to take place on Wednesday, but the outcome is unclear.

Scotland’s former deputy first minister has indicated there will indeed be a major announcement from Humza Yousaf later today.

In brief remarks to journalists as he headed into an event in Westminster, John Swinney said: “Obviously there’s a lot to happen today so I think we should probably wait to hear what the first minister’s got to say today.”

Asked again about Yousaf’s future, he said: “As I say, we’ll wait to hear what the first minister has got to say later on today.”

Ash Regan, Alba’s only MSP, seemingly has the deciding vote and her demands have been outlined to Mr Yousaf, after all other opposition parties announced their intention to back the vote of no confidence.

It is understood that talks are underway with individual Greens MSPs in a bid not to be totally reliant on Alba.

Who could be next?

Aberdeenshire-born Jenny Gilruth is one of the names being touted as a potential new leader.

The current education secretary has been in Holyrood since 2016 and has also served as Transport Minister under Nicola Sturgeon.

Kate Forbes, the former finance secretary who narrowly lost out to Mr Yousaf in last March’s SNP leadership election, has been mooted as a potential successor, though questions remain over how much support she has amongst current MSPs.

The Greens have already spoken out against Ms Forbes, saying her defeat in the leadership election was a “relief”, due to her socially conservative views.

Ms Forbes called for the Bute House Agreement to be ended in December.

John Swinney has also been linked with a return to frontline politics as a ‘safe pair of hands’.

The former party leader and deputy First Minister stood down in March last year after Ms Sturgeon announced her resignation as party leader.

A party source said: “There are only a couple of people who can bring calm to choppy waters and bring reassurance to the public, and John is the most obvious person.”

However, it’s understood that Mr Swinney is reluctant to take on the role due to personal circumstances.

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