John Swinney confirmed as new SNP leader

John Swinney was today confirmed as the SNP's new leader after no rival candidate emerged to challenge him in the race to replace Humza Yousaf.

The veteran Nationalist, 60, has returned to lead the party for a second time as it prepares for a tough general election campaign later this year.

In a tweet, he said: "I am deeply honoured to have been elected as leader of the SNP. I will give all that I have to serve my party and my country."

Swinney's coronation comes one week to the day that Yousaf dramatically resigned after he faced losing a motion of no confidence in Holyrood.

The former finance secretary, a close ally of Nicola Sturgeon, will formally become First Minister later this week after a vote in the Scottish Parliament.

He will accept the position of SNP leader at a speech in Glasgow on Monday afternoon.

Swinney has spoken of his intention to unite his party after it endured a miserable 14-month period following the shock resignation of Sturgeon in February 2023.

Her exit from frontline politics came just weeks before Police Scotland ramped up a long-running investigation into SNP finances.

Sturgeon's resignation prompted the first open SNP leadership contest in 20 years and saw Yousaf become entangled in a bitter three-way race with Kate Forbes and Ash Regan.

Yousaf's year-long spell in Bute House saw the Nationalists slide in the polls and critics within the party openly criticise Sturgeon's legacy.

Swinney must now attempt to put a positive spin on his decision to return as SNP leader two decades after he resigned from the job.

Keith Brown, the SNP depute leader, claimed earlier today the swap from Yousaf to Swinney was already paying dividends.

"I also understand over the course of the weekend, of course, we’ve people out canvassing and they’ve reported already an increase in positive turnout coming back from those canvassing sessions.

"So there’s been an immediate lift."

Swinney will lead a minority government at Holyrood and will have to rely on votes from opposition parties - most likely the Greens - to pass legislation and an annual budget.

Patrick Harvie, the Greens co-leader, today said: "We have worked with him over a number of years and in a number of roles, both in opposition and as part of the Scottish Government.

"Scotland needs a period of stable government. Mr Swinney knows that if he is to have our support then it must be on the basis of progressive policies that help us to tackle the climate crisis and build a fairer and more equal future.

"The next Scottish Government will face an important choice. Will they offer a progressive vision for Scotland’s future, or will they retreat toward the tepid middle ground, which would force them to rely on the Tories and other pro-union parties?"

Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour leader, said: "At a time when Scotland is crying out for change, the SNP is offering more of the same.

"John Swinney has been at the heart of this incompetent government for 17 years and at the heart of the SNP for 40 years.

"From presiding over the exam results scandal as Education Secretary to destroying public finances as Finance Secretary, John Swinney’s record is one of failure.

"This is a stitch-up by a chaotic and dysfunctional party that is more interested in protecting its own interests than serving the interests of the people of Scotland.

"The SNP must stop running scared and gives Scots a say in their next First Minister by calling an election."

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