John Swinney says he is 'making a personal sacrifice' to stand for SNP leader

John Swinney has said that he is "making a personal sacrifice" to stand to be SNP leader and first minister.

The former finance secretary said he had taken a few days to decide whether he wanted to run because of his family circumstances.

The Perthshire North MSP has a teenage son and his wife has multiple sclerosis.

He confirmed on Thursday morning that he was running to replace Humza Yousaf.

It looks likely that he will be crowned SNP leader and first minister next week after Kate Forbes ruled herself out.

Swinney had said he did not want to stand last year because he expected to wind down his political career.

He told ITV Border: "I am making a personal sacrifice to stand for leader of the SNP today.

"I thought a year ago that I had done my bit. I'd had a long government career, 16 years as a senior minister, and I thought the time was right for me to move on.

"Times and circumstances change. The SNP is in a difficult position just now. It's not as cohesive as it needs to be.

"It needs to be brought back together again and I think I've got the skills and the attributes to make sure that can happen."

When asked if it was a difficult decision because of his wife's medical condition and his son's age, Swinney replied:

"That's why I've taken some days to come to this decision.

"I was under media pressure almost immediately [after] the First Minister announced his decision as to whether I would stand.

"I've had to take time to speak with my wife and with my son to make sure that we can manage our way through this, because this will involve challenges for us, for all of us.

"And I'm deeply grateful to my wife and my son for the encouragement they've given [me] to do this.

"They know how much I am devoted to the SNP. They know how much I am concerned about where we are as a party, and they recognise that I've got something to do to help sort that.

"That involves personal sacrifice but I am prepared to do that."

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