Humza Yousaf quits as Scotland’s first minister

UK

Humza Yousaf has resigned as Scotland’s first minister after cutting ties with his government’s power-sharing partners.

The leader of the SNP, who only took on the role in March last year, has been at the centre of a chaotic few days in Holyrood after he made the surprise announcement to end his power-sharing deal with the Scottish Green Party on Thursday.

Mr Yousaf cut ties following a bitter row over the SNP’s climbdown on climate targets as he said the agreement between the parties had “served its purpose”.

But as a result, his former Green allies teamed up with the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats to get behind two no-confidence motions, one in himself as leader of Scotland and another regarding the entire Scottish government.

Ahead of any of those votes taking place, Mr Yousaf stepped down as Scotland’s first minister just after midday on Monday as he said he was “not willing to treat my values and principles or do deals with whomever simply for retaining power”.

He said he will remain in post until a replacement first minister is chosen.

Over the weekend, Mr Yousaf insisted he would not resign but by Monday morning his tune had changed and Sky News was told he was considering resigning.

More on Humza Yousaf

Announcing he was stepping down, Mr Yousaf said he “clearly underestimated the level of heart and upset” he caused the Greens when he cut ties with them.

“To my colleagues in opposition, regardless of political party, genuinely, I bear no ill will and certainly no grudge against anyone,” he said as his voice broke while thanking his wife, children and family for “putting up with me over the years”.

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Yousaf on ‘honour’ of being first minister

Mr Yousaf said it had been “an honour” to serve as first minister of Scotland and it was a role he “could never have dreamt” of as a young boy growing up there.

The politician, whose parents are Pakistani and Kenyan, also said he is evidence multiculturalism has flourished in the UK.

People who looked like me were not in positions of political influence, let alone leading governments, when I was younger,” he said.

“We now live in a UK that has a British Hindu prime minister, a Muslim mayor of London, a black Welsh first minister, and for a little while longer a Scottish Asian first minister of this country.

“So for those who decry that multiculturalism has failed across the UK, I would suggest that the evidence is quite to the contrary and that is something we should all celebrate.”

Mr Yousaf said he was proud to have overseen “the most progressive” tax system in the UK and played a part in lifting an expected 100,000 children out of poverty this year.

He added that he will continue to campaign for independence, which he said “feels frustratingly close” and he is “absolutely certain” his successor will achieve it.

The race to replace Mr Yousaf has now commenced, with several names in the fray, although none have officially declared they have thrown their hats in the ring.

Close ally of Mr Yousaf, John Swinney, former deputy leader under Nicola Sturgeon, is being touted as the favourite.

Stephen Flynn, the SNP’s Westminster leader, has also been mentioned as has Kate Forbes who lost out to Mr Yousaf during last year’s leadership contest.

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