John Swinney confirmed as new SNP leader and likely Scottish First Minister

John Swinney
John Swinney -Credit:Getty Images

John Swinney is expected to be Scotland's next First Minister, after he emerged as the only candidate to stand to be the SNP's new leader. After nominations for the post closed, the former Scottish Deputy First Minister was confirmed as the only person to put themselves forward to succeed Humza Yousaf.

Mr Swinney will now face a vote at Holyrood later this week, where it is likely he will become the Scottish Parliament's nominated candidate to be the country's seventh First Minister. It comes just a week after Mr Yousaf announced he was stepping down as both SNP leader and Scottish First Minister, after his decision to tear up his party's powersharing deal with the Greens at Holyrood left him facing a vote of confidence.

Following his announcement as leader, Mr Swinney posted on social media: "I am deeply honoured to have been elected as leader of @theSNP I will give all that I have to serve my party and my country."

The SNP said in a statement: "The SNP's nomination process closed at noon today (Monday, May 6). The party's national secretary, Lorna Finn, has subsequently confirmed John Swinney MSP as the new SNP Leader. The SNP Leader will deliver a speech later today."

Confirmation of Mr Swinney's appointment as party leader comes 25 years to the day after the first elections to the Scottish Parliament - with Mr Swinney one of only three MSPs to have held the same seat at Holyrood continuously since then. While Mr Yousaf's downfall was sparked by his decision to terminate the powersharing deal the SNP had had with the Scottish Greens, the smaller pro-independence party urged Mr Swinney not to ditch the "progressive" agenda that had been enshrined as part of that arrangement.

Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said the party's seven MSPs would meet to discuss how they would vote in the ballot for First Minister.

Mr Harvie stated: "We are committed to delivering on our vision of a fairer, greener and more equal Scotland, and are open to talks with John Swinney and his team about how we can work together to make that happen."

He added: "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 Green MSP added: "There are a lot of important policies already on their way to delivery as a result of the Bute House Agreement, including better rights for tenants and rent controls, transforming the way we heat our homes and a watertight ban on conversion therapy. We remain utterly committed to these policies and will oppose any move away from them or steps to dilute them."

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross meanwhile urged Mr Swinney to "govern for all of Scotland by abandoning his relentless push for independence". Mr Ross insisted his party would seek to "hold John Swinney to account when he lets the Scottish people down - just as we've done with Humza Yousaf".

But the Conservative added: "It's difficult to see how he can be the fresh start Scotland needs, when he's the ultimate continuity candidate. John Swinney was joined at the hip with the disgraced Nicola Sturgeon and his fingerprints are all over her numerous policy failures and cover-ups."

With Mr Swinney having led the SNP previously between 2000 and 2004, Mr Ross went on to question if a "failed former leader from two decades ago - who, as education secretary, sent Scotland plummeting down international league tables" was the best person to

lead the country.
He claimed: "With John Swinney at the helm, the SNP will double down on their independence obsession - the one issue they agree on - and ignore the real priorities of the Scottish people, such as fixing our ailing public services and growing the economy."