Nicola Sturgeon resigns as Scottish First Minister
‘I firmly believe that my successor will lead Scotland to independence’
Nicola Sturgeon has announced her decision to resign as Scotland’s First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party.
Speaking at a press conference in Edinburgh, Sturgeon said she had made the decision not due to short-term political difficulties, but because of “a deeper and longer-term assessment.”
“Since my very first moments in the job, I have believed that part of serving well would be to know, almost instinctively, when the time is right to make way for someone else”, she said.
“In my head and in my heart, I know that time is now. That it is right for me, for my party, and for the country”.
The Scottish leader said she felt she could not do the job for much longer after eight years as First Minister, before which she served as Deputy First Minister for seven years under Alex Salmond.
Sturgeon will remain in position until the SNP has elected a new leader, the timetable for which has not yet been set out.
The First Minister has been under political pressure in recent weeks over a range of issues, including the UK government’s blocking of Scotland’s Gender Recognition Bill, which would have made it easier for trans Scots to change their legal gender.
Some believe the row has damaged the SNP’s overall standing, with support for Scottish independence dropping to 44 per cent this week, compared to 56 per cent support for remaining in the union.
It follows the UK supreme court’s ruling last year that the Scottish government does not have the legal right to hold a referendum on independence without approval from the UK government.
Asked whether conflicts over issues of gender identity were the final trigger for her resignation, Sturgeon said: “No, that issue wasn’t the final straw”.
Speaking in Edinburgh, Sturgeon said she was looking forward to a life after politics, but that “I’m proud of my time as first minister”.
“Maybe I want to spend a bit of time on Nicola Sturgeon the human being. Does that sound selfish? I hope it doesn’t”.
She refused to offer support for any individual candidate to succeed her as leader of the SNP and First Minister.
Tributes are being paid by fellow politicians. British prime minister Rishi Sunak thanked her for her service, adding “I wish her all the best for her next steps”. Ian Blackford, who until recently led the SNP in the House of Commons in London, called Sturgeon “The finest First Minster Scotland has ever had, and the finest friend anyone could hope for”.
Fellow nationalist politicians across the UK have also offered their praise, with Adam Price, the leader of Wales’ pro-independence party, and Michelle O’Neill of Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland expressing their gratitude for her service.
Featured image: via SWNS.