Who could replace Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader and Scotland’s first minister?
Scottish first minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon revealed she is quitting the top job in a shock move seen as a major boon to the unionist movement.
Runners and riders are jostling for position as the Scottish National Party (SNP) prepares to replace Sturgeon in the post.
While the news was welcomed by the UK government as a chance for Scotland to “drop its divisive obsession with independence”.
Former SNP Westminster leader and constitution secretary Angus Robertson, 53, is the current favourite, with Ladbrokes having slashed the Edinburgh Central MSP’s odds to 1/1.
While finance minister Kate Forbes, 32, is also hotly tipped as a fresh talent by many in her party, particularly after delivering the 2020 Scottish Budget within hours following a shock resignation by Derek Mackay – but is currently on maternity leave with her first child.
Ladbrokes commentator Jessica O’Reilly said the money was largely in favour of Angus Robertson, and described the contest as a two-horse race.
“However, there’s also plenty of interest in Kate Forbes, who’s clearly rated highly as a rising star within the SNP,” she added.
Clydesdale MSP and ex-lawyer Mairi McAllan, 30, is ranked at 8/1 odds – after just two years in Holyrood, during which she spearheaded foxhunting legislation through the parliament.
The former Sturgeon advisor is seen by some as having a strong grounding in government, but questions remain over her age and potential inexperience.
Contenders also reportedly include John Swinney, a former SNP leader from 2000 to 2004; SNP health secretary and Glasgow MSP Humza Yousaf; and justice secretary Keith Brown.
Lawyer Joanna Cherry – a SNP MP and Sturgeon critic – and international development secretary Neil Gray – who could be a continuity candidate – are also said to be possibilities.
A reset moment?
Speaking to CityAM, Labour’s Yvette Cooper said she hoped Sturgeon’s departure would mark a “reset moment” for Scottish politics and an end to “separation and division and the same old arguments round and round again”.
But she denied the first minister’s resignation changed the likelihood of any Labour-SNP deal at a general election, stating: “We’ve been very clear that this is not about deals, this is about Labour in Scotland… and the work that we’re doing to form a Labour government.”
Scottish secretary Alister Jack said: “Her resignation presents a welcome opportunity for the Scottish Government to change course, and to drop its divisive obsession with independence.”