'I'm the luckiest man in the world': Humza Yousaf to take over from Nicola Sturgeon after winning SNP battle

27 March 2023, 14:13 | Updated: 5 April 2023, 08:45

Humza Yousaf was named new SNP leader, beating rivals Kate Forbes, and former minister Ash Regan
Humza Yousaf was named new SNP leader, beating rivals Kate Forbes, and former minister Ash Regan. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Asher McShane

Humza Yousaf was named the new leader of the SNP this afternoon after winning the contest to replace Nicola Sturgeon as party leader.

Kate Forbes, Ash Regan and Mr Yousaf had competed to replace Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader after she announced last month that she was standing down after more than eight years as Scotland's First Minister.

Mr Yousaf succeeded in the voting run-off with 26,032 votes, or 52.1%.

He succeeds Ms Sturgeon after defeating the current Scottish Finance Secretary Ms Forbes and former community safety minister Ms Regan in what was the SNP's first leadership contest for almost 20 years.

Mr Yousaf said he was "honoured" to be entrusted by the SNP membership after winning the leadership election.

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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.

He paid tribute to colleagues Kate Forbes and Ash Regan, adding: "It's felt we've seen each other more than our respective families.

Mr Yousaf won with 52% of the vote
Mr Yousaf won with 52% of the vote. Picture: Getty
(left to right) Ash Regan, Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, after it was announced Humza Yousaf is new SNP leader
(left to right) Ash Regan, Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, after it was announced Humza Yousaf is new SNP leader. Picture: Alamy

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

He will replace Ms Sturgeon as party leader right away but it will take a vote by MSPs, due to take place at Holyrood tomorrow, to decide whether he will be named first minister.

Nicola Sturgeon congratulated Mr Yousaf on his victory. She tweeted: "I pay tribute to all 3 candidates for @theSNP leadership for rising to the challenge.

"Most of all I congratulate @HumzaYousaf and wish him every success.

"He will be an outstanding leader & First Minister and I could not be prouder to have him succeed me."

Nicola Sturgeon meets with journalists after her last First Minister Questions last week
Nicola Sturgeon meets with journalists after her last First Minister Questions last week. Picture: Alamy

In a final TV interview earlier today, Ms Sturgeon said she is 'a bit sad' and 'emotional' at going.

Appearing on ITV's Lorraine, she said she is still confident she has made the 'right decision' to stand down.

Tory ministers have made little secret about their relief at the departure of Ms Sturgeon.

“I don't want to say anything bad or... what's the word, negative about Nicola Sturgeon. 

“Because I think that she is a dedicated public servant and she has devoted her life to public service.

“And as First Minister of Scotland I worked with her during the pandemic. I know that she was committed to coming to the right conclusions in the interests of the people of Scotland.

“I fundamentally disagree with her on many things, but I wish her well,” Michael Gove said in a toe-curling interview yesterday.

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