Humza Yousaf resigns as Scottish first minister

Humza Yousaf has officially resigned as Scottish first minister and leader of the SNP. 

It comes after days of wrangling over a vote of no confidence in the first minister at Holyrood, which was due to be put before MSPs this week. 

The announcement that Yousaf would be standing down came in a statement at noon at Bute House, his official residence in Edinburgh — only four days after hosting a press conference there to announce he was tearing up the Bute House coalition agreement with the Scottish Greens.

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This announcement on Thursday morning triggered a political crisis that went on to envelop Yousaf’s government, prompting the Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross to table a vote of no confidence in the first minister. 

The Greens, furious with Yousaf’s decision to unceremoniously end the Bute House agreement, quickly agreed to back the Scottish Conservatives’ motion. 

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Yousaf admitted he had  “clearly underestimated the level of hurt and upset” he had caused Green Party MSPs by ending the coalition agreement.

“For a minority government to be able to govern effectively and efficiently, trust when working with the opposition is clearly fundamental”, he added.

“And while a route through this week’s motion of no confidence was absolutely possible, I am not willing to treat my values and principles or do deals with whomever simply for retaining power.

“Therefore, after spending the weekend reflecting on what is best for my party, for the government and for the country I lead, I’ve concluded that repairing a relationship across the political divide can only be done with someone else at the helm.”

Ahead of his announcement this afternoon, Yousaf’s considerations were further complicated by a second no confidence vote against the entire Scottish government, this time brought by Scottish Labour. Had it succeeded, it would have compelled the first minister and his ministers to resign.

With the SNP two votes short of a majority at Holyrood, the parliamentary arithmetic left Yousaf on the brink. The party possesses 63 MSPs at Holyrood, two short of an overall majority required to win a no confidence ballot. 

The first minister had reportedly been battling for the support of Ash Regan, the lone Alba MSP, in order to avoid being ousted. However, the antagonism between the SNP and Alba — a splinter party founded by former first minister Alex Salmond — made any such deal politically perilous. 

After Yousaf’s announcement today, the SNP’s woes look set to worsen amid uncertainty over who could take over as interim first minister and lead the party.

Reports have suggested that the former SNP leader and deputy FM John Swinney has been urged by colleagues to serve as a leadership contest took place or, even, succeed Yousaf on a permanent basis as a unity candidate.

However, for Swinney to succeed Yousaf as a unity candidate, former finance secretary Kate Forbes — who came second to Yousaf in the 2023 SNP leadership contest — would need to stand aside. 

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly.

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