Humza Yousaf Resigns as Scotland’s First Minister

Humza Yousaf has resigned as Scotland’s first minister, just days before he was due to face two confidence votes in his leadership and government. The 39-year-old politician said he would also stand down as leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) but would stay on until his successor was found. Mr Yousaf was head of the devolved administration for just over a year in office. The politician has endured a torrid few days since ending the SNP’s ruling coalition with the Scottish Greens in the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh. His government had earlier abandoned ambitious targets for the transition to net-zero carbon emissions, angering the Greens. Mr Yousaf initially said he had no intention of quitting and intended to win the confidence votes however, the Scottish media quoted sources close to the first minister saying he would resign. Mr Yousaf became Scotland’s leader after Nicola Sturgeon sensationally announced she was stepping down as SNP leader and first minister, citing tiredness after eight years in charge.

“Politics can be a brutal business,” a tearful Mr Yousaf said, after reflecting on the historic nature of his period in power. “I could never have dreamt that one day, I would have the privilege of leading my country. People who looked like me were not in positions of political influence, let alone leading governments, when I was younger.” Mr Yousaf, the first Muslim leader of a major UK political party, defeated Kate Forbes and Ash Regan in a bruising contest that highlighted divisions in the party between those on the left wing and others closer to the right. His leadership was quickly plunged into turmoil when Ms Sturgeon was arrested with her husband, Peter Murrell, over claims of mismanagement of SNP finances. Mr Murrell was charged in the case earlier this month. Ms Sturgeon has not been charged. Ms Sturgeon had been the figurehead of the Scottish independence movement. She oversaw a surge in support for the SNP, particularly after Brexit – in which Scotland opposed leaving the European Union – and during the Covid pandemic.

But the SNP, which has run the Scottish government since 2007, has suffered a drop in popularity under Mr Yousaf. He also came under pressure over controversial new laws which made it an offence to stir up hatred against a number of groups, including transgender people. The law has been heavily criticised, including most prominently by Harry Potter author JK Rowling, who lives in Edinburgh. J.K. Rowling suggests she won’t ‘forgive’ Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson for supporting trans rights. The SNP’s slump has also come in the context of a resurgent Labour Party, which is tipped to win a UK general election due later this year. Scotland’s independence movement is arguably at its lowest ebb in recent memory. The country voted against independence in 2014. It has argued that the UK’s vote to leave the EU in 2016 had put the issue back on the table but it has struggled to build momentum for another vote. The Scottish parliament, re-established in 1999, has limited powers to set policy in areas such as health, education, transport, and the environment. The UK government in London retains powers for countrywide issues such as defence and foreign policy.

Source: Premier Christian News

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