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Emotional Nicola Sturgeon wipes away tear in final speech as Scotland's First Minister
23 March 2023, 14:56 | Updated: 23 March 2023, 15:32
Emotional Nicola Sturgeon fought back tears after delivering her final speech to the Scottish Parliament as First Minister.
The SNP leader said she is “overwhelmingly proud” of what her Government has achieved and that her successor would have "a tough job", but they would "build on [her] record and continue to maintain the trust of Scottish people".
She defended her party's record in government against criticism from both the Conservatives and Labour over the performance of the NHS, the gender recognition bill and drug related deaths in Scotland.
Nicola Sturgeon leaves chamber after addressing Parliament for final time as First Minister of Scotland
Beginning her final speech, she said: "No matter what I do in future, nothing, absolutely nothing will come close to the experience of the past 3,046 days."
Being first minister of the country I love has been a profound honour."As the first female in the top role in Scotland, Sturgeon said marking the three year anniversary since the first Covid lockdown was something she said "defined" her time in office.
Holding back tears, she delivered a final thank you to the people of Scotland: “Whether you voted for me or not… thank you so much for placing your trust in me."
“Words will never adequately convey the gratitude and the awe I hold in my heart for the opportunity I have had to serve as your First Minister.
“It truly has been the privilege of my lifetime.”
Earlier this week the trio clashed at the LBC hustings over gender recognition reform.
Yousaf – seen by critics as the Nicola Sturgeon continuity candidate – said he wanted to see leadership from the party so minority rights, like trans people's, are protected.
Ms Forbes said she did not want to pause the reform but stopped short of backing its continuation in its current form, while Ms Regan said she wanted a "citizen's assembly" to decide the issue.
Voting for the party's new leader and the winner will be announced on Monday.