High Noon for Humza Yousaf: Scotland's First Minister poised to quit in midday statement amid SNP meltdown

29 April 2024, 05:51 | Updated: 29 April 2024, 10:22

Humza Yousaf is set to quit as Scotland's First Minister amid SNP meltdown
Humza Yousaf is set to quit as Scotland's First Minister amid SNP meltdown. Picture: alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Humza Yousaf is said to be preparing to quit as Scotland's first minister after concluding that there is no way he can win a vote of no confidence this week.

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Mr Yousaf is fighting for his political future after the SNP's power-sharing deal with the Scottish Greens collapsed on Thursday.

The first minister said the agreement had “served its purpose" and was "no longer guaranteeing a stable arrangement in parliament".

He is now facing a vote of confidence, which was tabled by the Scottish Conservatives, while Scottish Labour tabled one for the Scottish Government as a whole.

Votes on the motions are expected at Holyrood in the coming week.

Mr Yousaf previously said he will not resign and intends to win the confidence votes.

But a close friend told the Times: “Humza knows what’s best for the country and the party. He is first party activist and a party man, and that’s why he knows it’s time for someone else.”

Read more: Alex Salmond says Alba's Ash Reagan will lay down terms to prop up Humza Yousaf in due course

Read more: Humza Yousaf says Scottish election could be called if he loses no-confidence vote, as he urges MSPs to reconsider

Former SNP leader John Swinney
Former SNP leader John Swinney. Picture: Alamy

Former SNP leader John Swinney has been approached to become an interim first minister if he is forced from office, according to the paper.

“There are only a couple of people who can bring calm to choppy waters and bring reassurance to the public, and John is the most obvious person,” a senior party source said.

However, it is understood that Mr Swinney is reluctant to step up, especially after defending Mr Yousaf at an SNP group meeting at Holyrood following the collapse of the deal. At the time, he called for unity in the party.

Mr Yousaf has written to other parties in an attempt to build bridges and establish how they can work with his minority government.

His former partners, the Scottish Greens, have indicated they will not be changing their minds about supporting the upcoming motion of no confidence in him - saying he must face "consequences".

Ash Regan MSP of the Alba Party
Ash Regan MSP of the Alba Party. Picture: Alamy

The SNP have 63 out of 128 voting MSPs, meaning the support of the Alba Party's sole MSP Ash Regan may be needed to get Mr Yousaf over the line.

Ms Regan has not yet confirmed how she will vote in the motions of no confidence at Holyrood.

The Alba Party's National Executive Committee held an emergency meeting on Sunday where it approved her proposal to put the party on an election footing in the event that an early poll is required.

Ms Regan set out to the NEC her three priorities in any negotiations with Mr Yousaf, which are independence, women's rights and the "restoration of competent government".

The party said she received the unanimous backing of the ruling body to pursue these priorities "in the best interest of Scotland".

But Mr Yousaf's spokesperson dismissed the idea the First Minister would agree an electoral pact with the Alba Party as "fantasy".

The First Minister has written to the leaders of Scotland's political parties to seek "common ground".

Anas Sarwar launches blistering attack on Humza Yousaf

It comes after Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar told LBC: "I think it's now a matter of when not if Hamza Yousaf resigns as first minister.

"But I think it'll be completely untenable for the SNP to presume they can impose another unelected First Minister in Scotland.

"And that’s why Scottish Labour has said already we don’t have confidence in Humza Yousaf.

"But today we will also be laying a motion before Parliament saying that the Scottish Parliament does not have confidence in this Scottish Government because, ultimately, I think it’s the people of Scotland that should decide who leads this country not just a small group of SNP members."