Nicola Sturgeon Steps Down as Scotland’s First Minister and SNP Leader
Nicola Sturgeon has announced her resignation as Scotland’s first minister and leader of the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP), after eight years in the role.
The 52-year-old became the first woman to lead Scotland when she succeeded Alex Salmond in 2014 and has since become the longest-serving first minister since the creation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.
Sturgeon made the shock announcement at a hastily arranged press conference Wednesday from her official residence in Edinburgh. She confirmed she had asked the SNP’s top brass to “begin the process of electing a new party leader” in the coming days and that she would remain in office until her successor is elected.
Ms Sturgeon said her decision was “not linked to short-term issues” and that her preference was to use the next Westminster election as a de facto referendum on Scottish independence.
“My decision comes from a place of duty and of love. Tough love, perhaps, but love nevertheless for my party and above all for the country,” she said.
Humza Yousaf, the current Scottish Health and Social Care Secretary, and Kate Forbes, the Scottish government’s 32-year-old finance secretary, have both been marked as potential successors to Sturgeon.
Sturgeon has come under pressure to clarify her stance on transgender women being jailed in women's prisons, after safety concerns were raised over a case in Scotland. She said she was “not leaving politics” and would continue to fight for Scottish independence, with her main political ambition to lead Scotland to independence.
U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Twitter on Wednesday, “My thanks go to [Nicola Sturgeon] for her long-standing service. I wish her all the best for her next steps. We will continue to work closely with the [Scottish Government] on our joint efforts to deliver for people across Scotland.
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