Humza Yousaf to quit as Scotland's First Minister after turbulent year as SNP leader

Humza Yousaf has confirmed he will resign as First Minister after barely a year in the top job in Scottish politics.

The SNP leader chose to quit after it became clear he would lose a motion of no confidence at Holyrood this week.

He will remain as First Minister until the conclusion of an SNP leadership contest to pick his successor.

Yousaf's sudden downfall was brought about after he decided to terminate the Bute House Agreement on April 25.

The abrupt end to the powersharing deal between the Greens and the SNP left the environmentalists furious.

Co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater then made it clear they would support a vote of no confidence against Yousaf.

The depth of the Greens' anger caught the First Minister and his Cabinet off guard. Despite a desperate attempt to repair relations, the SNP leader had concluded by Sunday evening he would have to resign.

Speaking at Bute House today, Yousaf said: "My hope was I would continue working with the Greens in a less formal arrangement as the SNP moved into a new phase of minority government.

"Unfortunately in ending the Bute House Agreement in the manner that I did, I clearly underestimated the level of hurt and upset I caused Green colleagues.

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

"While a route through this week's motion of no confidence was absolutely possible, I am not willing to trade 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 have concluded that repairing our relationship across the political divide can only be done with someone else at the helm.

"I have informed the SNP's national secretary of my intention to stand down as party leader, and ask she commences a leadership contest for my replacement as soon as possible.

"In order to ensure a smooth and orderly transition, it is my intention to continue as First Minister until my successor has been elected."

Humza Yousaf arrives at Bute House to announce his resignation -Credit:Callum Moffat / Daily Record
Humza Yousaf arrives at Bute House to announce his resignation -Credit:Callum Moffat / Daily Record

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has said there must be a Scottish election after the First Minister's resignation.

He thanked Yousaf for his public service and wished him and his family the best for the future.

He said: “Scotland faces the biggest challenges since devolution but it now has a dysfunctional, chaotic and divided SNP government.

“All this at a time when our country needs strong leadership to get us through the twin challenges of the economic crisis and the crisis in our NHS.

“The SNP are a divided party which is out of ideas and incapable of rising to the challenges Scotland faces.

“They cannot impose another unelected First Minister on Scotland in a backroom deal, the people of Scotland should decide who leads our country. There must be an election – it’s time for change and Scottish Labour is ready to deliver it.”

Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said the development was “regrettable” but welcomed the “personal responsibility” the SNP leader had taken.

He said: “Humza Yousaf is right to resign. His position was no longer tenable after he broke the bonds of trust with the Scottish Greens and with everyone who wanted a stable, progressive, pro-independence government. It is regrettable that it has ended this way, it didn’t need to. We draw no satisfaction or pleasure from this.

“But the Scottish Greens could no longer have confidence in Humza Yousaf after he chose to unilaterally end the Bute House Agreement. In doing so he let down the large majority of Scottish Green and SNP members who approved the agreement who wanted it to work.

“He chose to end a stable majority government and jeopardised the progressive policy programme that both parties had committed to and were working to deliver.

“It is to his credit that he has taken personal responsibility. Now though is the time to return to some stability.”

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