SNP in meltdown as tearful Humza Yousaf quits as party leader after Scottish power-sharing deal crumbles

29 April 2024, 12:05 | Updated: 29 April 2024, 13:42

Humza Yousaf pays emotional tribute to his family as he resigns as Scottish First Minister

By Emma Soteriou

Humza Yousaf has stepped down as SNP leader after the party's power-sharing deal broke down.

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Mr Yousaf will stay on as first minister while an SNP leadership election takes place, following in similar footsteps to his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon.

The first minister u-turned after previously saying he would not resign and instead intended to win two confidence votes.

It comes after a breakdown of the SNP's power-sharing deal with the Scottish Greens on Thursday.

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

But addressing the breakdown of the deal on Monday, Mr Yousaf acknowledged that he had "underestimated" the level of hurt it would cause.

"Unfortunately in ending the Bute House Agreement in the matter I did I clearly underestimate the level of hurt and upset that caused Green colleagues," he said.

"For a minority government to be able to govern effectively trust when working with the opposition is clearly fundamental."

He added a route through the no-confidence vote was "absolutely possible".

He continued: "I am not willing to trade in my values or principles or do deals with whomever simply for retaining power."

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Humza Yousaf announces he will resign as SNP leader and Scotland’s First Minister

Mr Yousaf said he made the decision in order to "repair our relationship across the political divide" in Scotland.

"After spending the weekend reflecting on what is best for my party, for the government and for the country I lead, I have concluded that repairing our relationship across the political divide can only be done with someone else at the helm," he said.

"I have therefore informed the SNP's national secretary of my intention to stand down as party leader and ask that she commences a leadership contest for my replacement as soon as possible."

Mr Humza became emotional as he paid tribute to his family.

Appearing to fight back tears, he said: "I am in absolute debt to my wonderful wife, my beautiful children and my wider family for putting up with me over the years. I'm afraid you will be seeing a lot more of me from now.

"You are truly everything to me."

First Minister Humza Yousaf speaking during a press conference at Bute House
First Minister Humza Yousaf speaking during a press conference at Bute House. Picture: Alamy

A vote of no confidence in Mr Yousaf was tabled by the Scottish Conservatives at the end of last week while Scottish Labour tabled one for the Scottish Government as a whole.

Mr Yousaf held meetings with MSPs over the weekend as he fought to save his political future but it is understood he saw no way of surviving the votes.

The SNP have 63 out of 128 voting MSPs, meaning Mr Yousaf would have needed to secure the backing of at least one MSP from another party to have a majority.

The Greens made clear they would not support the first minister in the votes of no confidence he faced.

They said his resignation was the "right" decision, adding that the development was "regrettable".

The party's co-leader, Patrick Harvie, said: "Humza Yousaf is right to resign. His position was no longer tenable after he broke the bonds of trust with the Scottish Greens and with everyone who wanted a stable, progressive, pro-independence government.

"It is regrettable that it has ended this way, it didn't need to. We draw no satisfaction or pleasure from this.

"But the Scottish Greens could no longer have confidence in Humza Yousaf after he chose to unilaterally end the Bute House Agreement. In doing so he let down the large majority of Scottish Green and SNP members who approved the agreement who wanted it to work.

"He chose to end a stable majority government and jeopardised the progressive policy programme that both parties had committed to and were working to deliver.

"It is to his credit that he has taken personal responsibility. Now though is the time to return to some stability."

Mr Yousaf will remain first minister until his replacement is chosen
Mr Yousaf will remain first minister until his replacement is chosen. Picture: Alamy

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, who tabled the motion of no confidence in Mr Yousaf, said his party had "forced Humza Yousaf out of office for repeatedly failing Scotland".

Mr Ross insisted: "Faced with our vote of no confidence, the SNP leader has quit rather than face a humiliating defeat."

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar called for a Scottish election following Mr Yousaf's resignation.

He thanked Mr Yousaf for his public service and wished him and his family the best for the future.

However, he said: "Scotland faces the biggest challenges since devolution but it now has a dysfunctional, chaotic and divided SNP government.

"All this at a time when our country needs strong leadership to get us through the twin challenges of the economic crisis and the crisis in our NHS.

"The SNP are a divided party which is out of ideas and incapable of rising to the challenges Scotland faces.

"They cannot impose another unelected First Minister on Scotland in a backroom deal, the people of Scotland should decide who leads our country. There must be an election - it's time for change and Scottish Labour is ready to deliver it."

Mr Yousaf at the end of his speech
Mr Yousaf at the end of his speech. Picture: Alamy

Meanwhile, former Scottish deputy first minister John Swinney said Mr Yousaf was a "pioneer".

Mr Swinney, who is thought to be a leadership contender, said: "I am terribly sorry that the first minister has decided to step down.

"Humza Yousaf has been a pioneer, the first person of colour to hold office as first minister. He has given principled and empathetic leadership to our country and has worked tirelessly to bring people together.

"I wish Humza, Nadia and their family well in all that lies ahead."

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