Voting closes in SNP leadership race to succeed Nicola Sturgeon

Voting has closed in the race for the SNP leadership, with Nicola Sturgeon’s replacement to be announced on Monday afternoon.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and former community safety minister Ash Regan have taken part in about 16 hustings as they vied for the top job.

The First Minister announced in February that she would resign after more than eight years in the job once her successor had been chosen.

SNP members had until noon on Monday to cast their ballots.

The fate of the three candidates is set to be revealed at about 2pm on Monday at the BT Murrayfield stadium in Edinburgh.

First Ministers Questions
Nicola Sturgeon during her last First Minster’s Questions in the debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA)

A vote in Holyrood will follow on Tuesday to select the next first minister.

It has not been a smooth leadership contest for the party, with acrimonious clashes between candidates and the dramatic resignation of chief executive Peter Murrell following controversy over the transparency of SNP membership numbers.

Frontrunners Mr Yousaf, 37, and Ms Forbes, 32, have particularly clashed over their record in government and their social views.

Polls put the candidates almost neck and neck, with Mr Yousaf favourite among SNP voters, according to an Ipsos Scotland survey of 1,023 Scots, with a net favourability of 11%, compared with 6% for his rival, Ms Forbes.

But the Finance Secretary is viewed more favourably by the general public, with a net popularity rating of minus 8%, compared with the Health Secretary’s minus 20%.

Ms Regan, widely considered an outsider for the job, had a net favourability of minus 24% among the general public, and minus 7% with SNP voters.