SNP minister says Kate Forbes would need Tory support to become First Minister

An SNP Minister has warned Kate Forbes would need Tory support to become the next First Minister.

The senior Government figure said some SNP MSPs would not vote for her and claimed she would have to rely on the Conservatives.

The SNP is in line for another brutal leadership contest after the chaotic resignation of Humza Yousaf as First Minister.

Ex-deputy first minister John Swinney is close to announcing a bid backed by SNP Westminster chief Stephen Flynn and Cabinet Secretaries.

Forbes, who ran Yousaf close last year, is also considering standing and has support from MP Joanna Cherry.

But an SNP minister claimed she had not been loyal to Yousaf as she had voted against the Government and warned her opposition to gay marriage and abortion were liabilities.

He also told the Record she could only win the First Minister vote at Holyrood if the Tories abstained:

“She would be mad to stand against Swinney. You cannot underestimate the turmoil she would bring to the party.”

Swinney, who led the party between 2000 and 2004, said today: “I’m giving very careful consideration to standing to be the leader of the SNP.

“I’ve been somewhat overwhelmed by the requests that have been made for me to do that.”

He said he had “many” requests from colleagues to stand and plans to carefully consider whether to do so.

An MSP ally of Forbes, who lost to Yousaf in last year’s leadership contest, said she is “considering” another bid.

Flynn said Swinney is the “only person with the experience to do the job and unite the party", while predecessor Ian Blackford said he “has what it takes".

Education Cabinet Secretary Jenny Gilruth said Swinney is the “best choice" and Health Secretary Neil Gray also threw his support around him.

SNP depute leader Keith Brown also backed Swinney.

Forbes has received support from Cherry and SNP MSP Fergus Ewing, who said she is “head and shoulders” above any other candidate.

Cherry tweeted: “John Swinney is hugely respected across our party but the lesson of the last year is that the SNP needs a complete reset. We must go forward not backwards. Kate was right when she said that continuity would not cut it. The next leader must deliver change.”

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