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by Chris Marshall
27 March 2023
Humza Yousaf wins SNP leadership race

Humza Yousaf wins SNP leadership race

Humza Yousaf has been elected as the new leader of the SNP after defeating rival candidates Kate Forbes and Ash Regan.

Yousaf, 37, who was widely seen as the continuity candidate, will take over from Nicola Sturgeon, who led the party since 2014.

He is expected to be confirmed as first minister tomorrow following a vote in the Scottish Parliament.

After the result was announced, Yousaf said he was the “the luckiest man in the world”.

He said: “To serve my country as first minister will be the greatest honour of my life, should parliament decide to elect me as first minister tomorrow.

“And just as I was lead the SNP in the interests of all party members, not just those who voted for me, so I will aim to lead Scotland in the interests of all our citizens whatever your political allegiance.

“If elected your first minister after tomorrow’s vote, know that I will be a first minister for all of Scotland. That I will work every minute of every day to earn and re-earn your respect and your trust.”

Yousaf said divisions in the party had to be healed quickly.

“As a party, we are at our strongest when we are united and what unites us is our shared goal of independence.”

Yousaf initially won 24,336 votes, 48.2 per cent of all those cast. As no candidate won more than 50 per cent of the votes, Ash Regan was eliminated.

The final result saw Yousaf win 26,032 (52.1 per cent) to Forbes' 23,890 (47.9 per cent).

The overall turnout was 70 per cent with a total of 50,494 votes cast.

  

Forbes said: “I issue my warmest congratulations to Humza.

“I’ve been proud to share a platform with both him and Ash over the last five weeks, and I know we will continue to work together, to make the lives of all of Scotland’s people better on the next stage of our journey to independence.

“Whatever the robust disagreements or frank exchanges of the last few weeks, I am confident we will unite behind Humza as our new party leader in the shared and common objective of independence.”

Ash Regan tweeted her congratulations: “I wish him well and back him as he leads our party - and I would encourage everyone to get behind Team SNP.”

Currently health secretary, Yousaf has held briefs including transport and justice during his time in government.

He was first elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2011, having previously worked for the SNP.

During the leadership contest, Yousaf said he would go to court to challenge the UK Government’s decision to block the Gender Recognition Reform bill.

He has pledged to tackle poverty and argued that his party must build a case for Scottish independence. He has also indicated his willingness to look again at Scotland's controversial National Care Service.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “I extend my sincere congratulations to Humza Yousaf on his election.

“While I question his mandate and the SNP’s record, it is important to reflect on the election of what will be the first First Minister from an ethnic minority background. Regardless of your politics, this is a significant moment for Scotland.

“But while Scotland faces the twin crises of the cost of living and the NHS emergency, it is clear that the SNP does not have the answers that Scotland needs.”

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “I congratulate Humza Yousaf on his election, and on becoming the first leader of his party from an ethnic minority.

“We encourage him to govern for all of Scotland and abandon his divisive plans to push independence relentlessly as the self-styled ‘First Activist’.

“As the main opposition party, we will hold Humza Yousaf to account when he lets the Scottish people down.

“Unfortunately, we have serious concerns about his ability. For the good of Scotland, we hope he does not lurch from failure to failure as he did when he was Nicola Sturgeon’s health secretary, justice secretary and transport minister.”

 

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