Humza Yousaf Has Been Elected The New SNP Leader

He narrowly defeated Kate Forbes and will become Scotland's next first minister.
Humza Yousaf defeated Kate Forbes and Ash Regan.
Humza Yousaf defeated Kate Forbes and Ash Regan.
Jane Barlow via PA Wire/PA Images

Humza Yousaf has been elected the new leader of the SNP.

He narrowly defeated Kate Forbes in a ballot of the party’s members and will now succeed Nicola Sturgeon as Scotland’s first minister.

Yousaf also becomes the first Muslim to be elected leader of one of the devolved nations.

His victory follows a fractious five-week leadership contest triggered by Sturgeon’s surprise resignation last month.

He was widely seen as the continuity candidate, having won the support of several SNP big-hitters, including outgoing deputy first minister John Swinney and Stephen Flynn, the party’s leader at Westminster.

The other candidate in the race, Ash Regan, was eliminated in the first round of voting after receiving just 11% of first preference votes.

Yousaf then won the run-off with Forbes by 26,032 votes to 23,890, or 52% to 48%.

He said he was “honoured” to be entrusted by the SNP membership after winning the leadership election.

He said: “It is hard for me to find the words to describe just how honoured I am to be entrusted by our membership of the SNP to be the party’s next leader and to be on the cusp of being our country’s next first minister.

Yousaf also paid tribute to colleagues Forbes and Regan, adding: “It’s felt we’ve seen each other more than our respective families.

“You both have put in an incredible shift and I know that collectively we will work hard as part of Team SNP.”

Reacting to the result, Stephen Flynn said: “I warmly congratulate Humza Yousaf on his election as SNP leader, and look forward to working closely with him, as we deliver on the priorities of people in Scotland.”

The closeness of Yousaf’s victory highlights the deep splits within the SNP which were exposed during the leadership contest.

Kate Forbes repeatedly attacked her main rival’s ministerial record, while all three candidates were at odds with one another on the best way to achieve Scottish independence.

Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s deputy leader, told Times Radio: “It strikes me that there is a deeply divided party now in the SNP, given the closeness of the vote.”


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