Eastern Eye (UK)

Several firsts for Scotland’s new leader as he takes over from Sturgeon


SCOTLAND’S parliament on Tuesday (28) confirmed Humza Yousaf will replace Nicola Sturgeon as first minister, the devolved nation’s youngest and the first Muslim leader of a government in western Europe.

Yousaf, 37, narrowly won a Scottish National Party (SNP) leadership battle on Monday (27) and then secured the nomination­s of a majority of lawmakers in the early afternoon vote on Tuesday to become the new first minister. He will be formally sworn in at a ceremony on Wednesday (29).

Ahead of the confirmato­ry vote, Yousaf acknowledg­ed he had “some very big shoes to fill” in succeeding Sturgeon, but vowed to “continue to ensure Scotland is a positive, progressiv­e voice on the world stage”.

“I will stand up unequivoca­lly for this parliament and against any attempts to undermine devolution,” he said, referring to the UK government reforms that handed Scotland a host of powers over domestic policy in 1999.

“I will work every hour of every day to harness the potential of Scotland and every single person,” the new SNP leader added.

In the hours before the vote, Sturgeon sent her formal letter of resignatio­n to King Charles III, and left the first minister’s official residence in Edinburgh for the last time.

Yousaf will be sworn into the role on Wednesday following formal approval from the king – whom he wants to dislodge in favour of an elected head of state for Scotland.

SNP leaders took pride in Scotland becoming the first democracy in western Europe to appoint a Muslim as leader.

“I think what it says about the UK is that we are a welcoming group of nations, and Scotland in particular,” said Stephen Flynn, the party’s leader in Westminste­r.

He contrasted that with prime minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservati­ve government seeking “to outlaw asylum seekers” through new legislatio­n to tackle boatloads of migrants crossing the Channel.

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