Nicola Sturgeon is to quit as Scotland’s first minister in a shock decision. A source confirmed Sturgeon, who has been the country’s longest-serving first minister, was to announce her resignation at 11am on Wednesday in Edinburgh. We look at who might replace her.
John Swinney, her trusted deputy first minister and one of the very few senior figures in her small inner circle, could throw his hat in the ring. After Sturgeon, Swinney has the most experience in government and within the SNP.
However, Swinney also briefly served as SNP leader in the early 2000s after Salmond unexpectedly quit as party leader. He had a difficult time, and in turn resigned, to allow Salmond to resume as leader.
Another strong favourite will be Angus Robertson, the current culture and external affairs secretary, and a former Westminster leader of the SNP. He has huge experience running SNP election campaigns and, alongside Swinney, is one of the few veterans of the Salmond era.
He is not liked on the left of the party after forcing through a change of SNP policy to support an independent Scotland joining Nato, before the 2014 independence referendum.
Another candidate could be Kate Forbes, the Scottish finance secretary and Gaelic speaker, who is currently on maternity leave with her first child. Liked within the party and respected at Holyrood, Forbes would be the youngest SNP leader if she won.
She would, however, face questions about her religious beliefs. As an active member of the Free Church of Scotland, its teachings conflict with many key SNP and Scottish government policies on gay rights and transgender policy.
Humza Yousaf, one of Scotland’s most senior Muslim and BAME politicians, is another potential candidate. Currently health secretary, a key position in Sturgeon’s government, he has faced repeated demands from opposition parties that he resign over continual crises in the NHS, particularly over his failure to tackle huge delays in A&E waiting times.