29 APRIL 2024 | NEWS

The First Minister of Scotland, Humza Yousaf, has announced his resignation following widespread speculation as to his political future, after he terminated the ruling SNP’s power-sharing agreement with the Scottish Greens last week.

The latter party’s co-leaders, Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, were ejected from government, and the governing coalition settlement in order to form a majority at Holyrood – known as the Bute House Agreement, which had existed since August 2021 – was unilaterally terminated by Mr Yousaf last Thursday, leaving his party without a majority to govern.

The Bute House Agreement came about largely due to the Scottish Greens’ shared support for the independence of Scotland from the rest of Great Britain, alongside broad agreement on several key policy issues.

However, it is understood that the announcement by the serving Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Net Zero and Energy, Màiri McAllan, that the Scottish Government’s presently legally-binding target to see a 75% percent reduction in emissions by 2030 was unworkable and would be dropped, prompted the Scottish Greens to contemplate their future in coalition governance with the SNP.

The First Minister had insisted in the following days that this was his decision to make, but it triggered two votes of confidence to be tabled in the Scottish Parliament – one in the SNP government (by Scottish Labour), and another in Mr Yousaf’s leadership (by the Scottish Conservatives). The Scottish Greens indicated that they would vote with no confidence in both motions.

The developments prompted considerable intrigue at Holyrood that the First Minister’s position was untenable at this juncture, which has now been shown to be correct. Journalists were made aware of Mr Yousaf’s likely position this morning.

The First Minister’s resignation speech can be watched here:

In his speech, the First Minister confirmed that he would continue in his role until such time as a successor could be elected. He also acknowledged that he had “underestimated” the degree of hurt that had been caused by his decision to terminate the power-sharing agreement unilaterally.

In what was clearly an emotionally-charged address, the First Minister said: “I am not willing to trade my values and principles, or do deals with whoever, simply for retaining power.” He added that “repairing our relationship, across the political divide, can only be done with someone else at the helm”.

Mr Yousaf also hailed the “fair tax system – the most progressive in the UK – where those who earn the most contribute the most” that he implied had been created in Scotland under his party’s governance. He further stated that his party’s primary goal of independence for Scotland had felt “frustratingly close”.

He also stated that he would continue to champion minority communities and “the rights of those who are not often heard”, making explicit reference to “the most horrific humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, as the world watches on”.

The Scottish Parliament will now have 28 days to appoint a successor as First Minister by means of a vote, although without a majority for any party, there is no particularly likely outcome. If it cannot do so, the parliament will be dissolved and a fresh election will then be called.

Former Deputy First Minister John Swinney is among those deemed likely to submit candidacy for the role, and is considered by some in Holyrood to enjoy sufficient support to lead. Kate Forbes, who unsuccessfully contested the leadership of the SNP in the previous election that followed former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation, is also understood to be among the favoured candidates.

Further developments are anticipated in the coming weeks, as Holyrood considers how to resolve the crisis in its leadership and new candidates for this emerge.

Patrick Timms
Patrick is a freelance translator and political journalist who makes regular media appearances, with a background in educational IT. In 2019, he stood as a Conservative Councillor candidate in Crewe West.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here