Scotland’s First Minister Resigns Ahead of Planned No-Confidence Motions

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf on Monday resigned from office after his governing Scottish National Party was weakened by divisions over transgender issues coupled with a campaign finance scandal.

With two confidence votes in Scotland’s regional parliament scheduled for later in the week, Yousaf chose to step down rather than get forced out of office. He will remain until after the Scottish National Party chooses a successor.

The final straw for Yousaf was his decision to eject the Green Party from the governing coalition due to an ongoing dispute over the government’s climate change agenda. Yousaf was unable to persuade the other parties in the regional parliament to support his minority government.

Yousaf told reporters in Edinburgh that the only way to repair the political divide was to have “someone else at the helm.”

Yousaf replaced former Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon who resigned as first minister in February 2023. Sturgeon became the party’s leader in 2014 after Scotland voted to remain a part of the United Kingdom.

The Scottish National Party must now select a new leader who can attract the support of another opposition party in Scotland’s regional parliament where the Scottish National Party is one seat shy of a majority, holding only 63 seats in the 128-seat body.

Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvey said his party would be willing to join the Scottish National Party’s coalition now that Yousaf was no longer the leader. He said the Greens would work with any first minister who shared their “progressive values” and secured their confidence.

Possible replacements for Yousaf include John Swinney, a former deputy first minister. Swinney said he would give the position “careful consideration.”

Another possible choice is Kate Forbes who nearly defeated Yousaf in the last leadership vote. However, Forbes would be unlikely to sway the Green Party due to her conservative views and opposition to the governing party’s transgender reforms.