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by Louise Wilson
06 February 2024
Humza Yousaf inherited ‘poisoned chalice’ from Nicola Sturgeon, says Mhairi Black

Mhairi Black MP and First Minister Humza Yousaf | Alamy

Humza Yousaf inherited ‘poisoned chalice’ from Nicola Sturgeon, says Mhairi Black

Humza Yousaf inherited a “slightly poisoned chalice” when he became First Minister of Scotland, the SNP’s depute leader at Westminster has said.

Mhairi Black, who has announced her intention to stand down at the next election, said her party had faced “challenges” in recent months.

But she praised Yousaf for “talking about the things that matter” despite the party’s ongoing problems.

Since Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation as first minister almost a year ago, the SNP has seen a sharp decline in the polls.

The Scottish Government has faced issues relating to the retention of informal messages during the pandemic, health secretary Michael Matheson running up an £11,000 roaming bill, and policy challenges surrounding areas such as gender recognition reforms, a deposit return scheme and highly protected marine areas.

At the same time, the SNP is subject to an investigation into its finances by Police Scotland.

Interviewed as part of the BBC’s new radio documentary Labour’s Scotland Challenge, Black said: “It would be foolish to say the SNP hasn't faced its challenges, of course we have, particularly when I think of what Humza inherited. In some respects it could be described as a slightly poisoned chalice that's he's been handed.

“But still, he's hit the ground running – he’s talking about the things that matter, he’s talking about change and improving the quality of life for folk in Scotland.”

The Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP became the party’s deputy Westminster leader in December 2022, as part of a joint ticket which saw Stephen Flynn become leader.

Just months later, she announced she would not stand again at the next general election – expected to take place this year – citing the “toxic” atmosphere within the UK parliament.

Late last year, Holyrood reported that Black had threatened to quit the party on the eve of the Rutherglen by-election in a row over who would become the candidate for her seat.

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