Nicola Sturgeon: I'm going to be around a lot longer
Nicola Sturgeon has said she will stay on as First Minister of Scotland for the full five-year parliamentary term.
Dismissing speculation she could go sooner in an interview with the BBC, Sturgeon insisted this was “wishful thinking” on the behalf of her political opponents.
She said she would “fulfil the mandate” given to her to remain as First Minister in May’s Holyrood elections.
Sturgeon has held the position for seven years and is set to become the longest serving First Minister, overtaking her predecessor Alex Salmond, in May next year.
She was speaking ahead of the SNP’s party conference this weekend.
She said: “I almost take the wishful thinking of my opponents on this as some kind of, I’m sure unintended compliment, but a compliment, nevertheless.
“It is almost as if my opponents have concluded they can't beat me or remove me from office themselves, so they're kind of crossing their fingers and hoping that I'll remove myself from office.
“But they are going to be really disappointed because I'm going to be around a lot longer. And given how many Tory and Labour leaders have come and gone in my time as First Minister, perhaps a lot longer than them and a lot longer than they might wish me to be.
"I was elected seven months ago, having asked people in Scotland to put their trust in me for a five year term as First Minister.
“They gave me that trust, they re-elected me, we face serious times as a country, and I intend to fulfil that mandate.”
However, she would not be drawn on whether she would remain in the position beyond May 2026.
Starting on Friday, the SNP’s party conference – taking place online – will debate issues including COP26's legacy, social security and the draft referendum bill allowing for a fresh vote in independence.
Sturgeon has previously said she hopes to hold a new referendum before the end of 2023, Covid-permitting.
But Scottish Labour said her interview with the BBC was a “self-indulgent distraction”.
Business manager Neil Bibby said: “Frankly, this is merely a desperate attempt by the First Minister to drum up some interest ahead of SNP conference.
“In this time of acute public health crisis, it is telling that the First Minister is again thrusting her party’s separatist agenda to the fore.”