Humza Yousaf resigns as Scotland’s first minister

Humza Yousaf has resigned as the Scottish National Party (SNP) leader and Scotland’s first minister.

The move comes soon after Yousaf ended the SNP’s alliance with the Scottish Greens, which triggered two no-confidence votes put forward by opposition parties that Yousaf looked likely to lose.

“I am not willing to trade my values and principles or do deals with whomever simply for retaining power,” Yousaf said during a televised announcement.

The pro-independence SNP’s fortunes have faltered amid a funding scandal and the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon as party leader last year. An internal struggle has followed over how progressive the party should pitch its policies as it seeks to woo back voters.

Earlier this month, Yousaf said he was “quite confident” that he could win a no-confidence vote. However, by Monday, his offer of talks with other parties to bolster his minority government was uncertain.

The Muslim head of a major political party and Scotland’s youngest elected leader, Yousaf said he had “underestimated” the level of hurt after ending a power-sharing deal with the Scottish Greens last week.

“I have concluded that repairing the relationship across the political divide can only be done with someone else at the helm,” he said.

Yousaf’s resignation as SNP leader triggers a search for his successor and consequently new first minister. The Scottish Parliament would need to back any replacement in the post within 28 days. An election would be held if no majority is reached.

During his resignation speech, Yousaf called for the leadership contest to find his replacement to start as soon as possible. He will remain in place as first minister until then.

‘Never have dreamt’

Glasgow-born Yousaf, whose paternal grandparents and father emigrated to Scotland from Pakistan in the 1960s, had been hailed as a polished communicator who the SNP hoped would be able to unite the fractured SNP.

His tenure was to last just a year. “Politics can be a brutal business,” a tearful Yousaf said on Monday.

However, he reflected on the historic nature of his period in power, noting that the UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s ethnic background is also South Asian.

“I could never have dreamt that one day, I would have the privilege of leading my country,” he said. “People who looked like me were not in positions of political influence, let alone leading governments, when I was younger.”

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