Humza Yousaf succeeds Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader
Humza Yousaf is to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader and Scotland’s first minister after a vote of party members.
Mr Yousaf defeated rivals Kate Forbes and Ash Regan in a leadership contest that exposed deep divisions within the party.
The 37-year-old is the first Muslim to lead a major UK party.
He is set to be confirmed as the first ethnic minority leader of a devolved government on Tuesday.
Mr Yousaf is currently Scotland’s health secretary and was widely assumed to be Ms Sturgeon’s preferred successor, although she did not explicitly back any of the candidates in the contest.
The leadership election was decided by the Single Transferable Vote system, with 50,490 of the SNP’s 72,169 members casting a ballot – the vast majority of them online.
Mr Yousaf failed to win a majority in the first round of voting, but won 52.1% of the votes after second preference votes from Ms Regan, who was eliminated after finishing third, were redistributed.
Ms Forbes came second with 47.9% of the votes when second preferences were included, with Mr Yousaf receiving 26,032 votes and Ms Forbes 23,890.
The new SNP leader will face a vote in the Scottish Parliament – which he is certain to win – on Tuesday before becoming Scotland’s sixth first minister.
He had been the clear favourite with the bookmakers during the contest, although polling expert Prof Sir John Curtice said ahead of the result that Ms Forbes appeared to be more popular with Scottish voters as a whole.
Ms Forbes, a member of the evangelical Free Church of Scotland, had been attacked by the SNP hierarchy during the contest over her socially conservative views on issues such as gay marriage, abortion and having children outside of marriage.
Speaking after being confirmed as the new leader at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Mr Yousaf said it would be “the greatest honour and privilege of my life” to be the next first minister.
And he called on the party to unite behind him after what has often been a fractious leadership contest.
He said independence would be won “on the doorsteps” and pledged to kickstart a grassroots campaign, adding: “We will be the generation to win independence for Scotland”.
Mr Yousaf added: “In the SNP we are a family. Over the last five weeks we may have been competitors or supporters of different candidates.
“We are no longer team Humza, or team Ash, or team Kate, we are one team.”
Mr Yousaf also said his grandparents had arrived in Scotland from Pakistan in the 1960s barely able to speak a word of English, and would not have believed “in their wildest dreams” that their grandson would one day become first minister of Scotland.
Ms Sturgeon, who was Scotland’s longest-serving first minister, announced last month she was stepping down after more than eight years in the job.https://emp.bbc.com/emp/SMPj/2.48.0/iframe.htmlMedia caption,
Humza Yousaf defeated rivals Kate Forbes and Ash Regan in the leadership contest
She said Mr Yousaf will be an “outstanding” leader as she congratulated him on his appointment, adding: “I could not be prouder to have him succeed me”.
It was the first time the SNP has had a leadership contest since 2004, with Ms Sturgeon being unopposed when she replaced Alex Salmond in 2014.
Mr Yousaf becomes only its fifth leader since 1979, and will face the task of uniting a party that has dominated Scottish politics in recent years but which has looked deeply divided in the wake of Ms Sturgeon’s resignation.
Ms Sturgeon’s surprise announcement that she was resigning came just three weeks after she insisted that she had “plenty in the tank” and still believed she would lead Scotland to independence.
Her husband, Peter Murrell, was forced to resign midway through the campaign after it emerged the party’s membership stood at 72,000 rather than the 104,000 it had consistently claimed to have.
The party still faces a police probe over the use of £600,000 which was raised by activists who were told it would be ringfenced for a second independence referendum, and questions over why Mr Murrell gave a SNP a loan of more than £100,000 in June 2021.