SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn backs Humza Yousaf in leadership contest

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has given his backing to Humza Yousaf in the race to be Scotland’s next first minister, saying the Scottish Health Secretary can take the party to “new heights”.

There are three candidates battling to be the next SNP leader and Scottish first minister.

Mr Yousaf is up against Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and former community safety minister Ash Regan.

Speaking ahead of voting opening on Monday, Mr Flynn, who was recently installed as the SNP’s leader at Westminster, announced he would be backing Mr Yousaf.

Mr Flynn said: “The public are crying out for hope right now – the knock-on impact of Brexit, the Tories crashing the economy and the cost-of-living crisis is hitting household budgets hard and putting huge pressure on both the public and private sector.

“I’ve therefore listened closely to all three candidates and their plans to tackle the economic challenges facing us and I believe Humza is best placed to offer that hope.”

He praised Mr Yousaf for plans to “fast-track the expansion of childcare to one and two-year-olds, and support parents with upfront childcare cost”, saying these could be a “real game-changer for both working families and the wider economy”.

The MP continued: “Coupled with his belief in the necessity for both energy security and an energy transition that protects the climate and people’s jobs, it’s clear that Humza is focused on delivering for our economy both now, and into the future.

“The next leader of the SNP must be in a position to unite our party and our movement, be focused on the immediate challenges facing the public, and be able to grow a sustained and undeniable majority in favour of independence.

“At this important juncture in our party’s history, we need a leader who recognises and celebrates our record to date and who is focused on taking us to new heights.

“On Monday, I’ll be voting for Humza to become the SNP leader and Scotland’s next first minister.”

Ash Regan, Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes (Jane Barlow/Andrew Milligan/PA)
Ash Regan, Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes (Jane Barlow/Andrew Milligan/PA)

SNP Westminster deputy leader Mhairi Black has already announced her support for Mr Yosuaf, criticising Ms Forbes, who said she would not have voted for same-sex marriage if she had been at Holyrood when the legislation was passed.

Bruce Crawford, a former parliamentary business secretary in the Scottish Government, also endorsed Mr Yousaf.

The former MSP tweeted: “I have thought long and hard about who should be the next leader of the SNP. I believe that ⁦Humza Yousaf⁩ is the candidate who has best demonstrated the qualities and attributes to be that leader.”

Veteran SNP MSP Christine Grahame is among those to have announced she will be voting for Ms Forbes.

High-profile MP Joanna Cherry has given her support to Ms Regan.