Next SNP leader could be ‘crowned’, claim Tories – as John Swinney leads field

Politics

The next leader of the SNP could be “crowned… with no contest”, the Scottish Conservatives have claimed, after Humza Yousaf stepped down from the role on Monday.

Mr Yousaf – who has been leader and first minister of Scotland for just over a year – announced his resignation after his decision last week to cut power-sharing ties with the Scottish Green Party saw his leadership collapse.

Now the focus is moving onto who will replace him, with former deputy of the party John Swinney appearing to lead the pack.

Politics live: Next Scottish FM tipped to be ‘crowned with no contest’

Mr Swinney – was was Nicola Sturgeon’s number two between 2014 and 2023 – has yet to confirm he is running for the leadership, telling Sky News he was “giving very careful consideration” to the decision.

But senior figures have already given him their backing, with the SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn telling Sky News: “Serious times demand serious politics and serious people, and the best person to take that forward now for the Scottish Nationalist Party is John Swinney.”

He may not have a straight path to victory, however, with sources close to Kate Forbes – who lost out to Mr Yousaf during last year’s leadership contest – saying the MSP was also “actively considering” another run for the top job.

More on Humza Yousaf

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Swinney ‘considering’ SNP leadership bid

Speaking to the Politics Hub With Sophy Ridge, leader of the Scottish Conservatives Douglas Ross said he didn’t think there would be a contest though.

“My reading of the situation now is John Swinney will be crowned as SNP leader with no contest, and I think as soon as next week there will be a vote in the Scottish Parliament to elect him as the first minister,” he said.

“You’ve seen countless senior politicians both here at Westminster and in Edinburgh back John Swinney. Of course, it’s the same John Swinney that last year ruled himself out and said it’s time for fresh talent to come through.”

He added: “That’s not really going to be a change, it’ll be more of the same, that’s focusing on independence at the expense of the real priorities that people across Scotland have.”


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Meanwhile, former first minister and now leader of rival party Alba Alex Salmond has been expressing sympathy for Mr Yousaf, telling Sophy Ridge it was “a great wrench” to leave the role.

But he questioned whether those around the outgoing leader were “acting in his best interests”, hinting at a plot to oust him in favour of Mr Swinney.

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Yousaf: ‘I’m sad my time is ending’

Asked whether the contest would be a “stitch up” by “the boys club” at the top of the SNP – as party MP Joanna Cherry suggested earlier – the current deputy leader, Keith Brown, said no.

He told Sophy Ridge: “The majority of the cabinet are female and of course we had a very lengthy period with a female leader, so anybody can come forward for this contest.”

However, Mr Brown gave his support to Mr Swinney, saying he was “somebody who is experienced and somebody who will bring unity hopefully to the parliament but also to the party”.

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