John Swinney elected new first minister by Scottish Parliament after becoming SNP leader

7 May 2024, 16:02 | Updated: 7 May 2024, 16:30

John Swinney elected as Scotland's new first minister by Scottish Parlaiment after becoming SNP leader
John Swinney elected as Scotland's new first minister by Scottish Parlaiment after becoming SNP leader. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

John Swinney will become Scotland's next first minister after receiving the backing for the job by a majority of Holyrood's MSPs.

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Swinney, 60, won the SNP leadership contest on Monday after no other challenger put themselves forward for the top job.

Swinney was backed by 64 MSPs, with his nearest rival Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross picking up 31.

It comes just eight days after predecessor Humza Yousaf announced he was stepping down, after his decision to terminate the powersharing agreement the SNP had with the Scottish Greens at Holyrood left him facing a vote of no confidence in his leadership.

Yousaf formally tendered his resignation to King Charles earlier on Tuesday.

Newly elected Scottish First Minister John Swinney with outgoing First Minister Humza Yousaf and predecessor Nicola Sturgeon, Tuesday
Newly elected Scottish First Minister John Swinney with outgoing First Minister Humza Yousaf and predecessor Nicola Sturgeon, Tuesday. Picture: Alamy

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The Scottish Greens abstained from the vote on Tuesday as Swinney fended off Ross, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, and Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Alex Cole-Hamilton - who all received backing for the role from within their own parties.

Swinney's name will now be put forward to King Charles and an official swearing-in ceremony expected to take place in Edinburgh later this week.

The SNP leader will appoint his cabinet in the coming days.

Newly elected SNP leader John Swinney with predecessor Humza Yousaf at the Scottish Parliament, Tuesday
Newly elected SNP leader John Swinney with predecessor Humza Yousaf at the Scottish Parliament, Tuesday. Picture: Alamy

Swinney said it is an "extraordinary privilege" to accept the office of First Minister following the Holyrood vote.

The new SNP leader spoke about his wife's multiple sclerosis and the impact it has had on his family as he offered "eternal gratitude" to his wife Elizabeth for the "sacrifices she is prepared to make to enable her husband to serve our country as First Minister".

He told the Scottish Parliament: "Members will know that my wife Elizabeth has multiple sclerosis.

"She is indefatigable in trying to make sure that MS does not get in the way of her living life to the full. But much to her frustration, she does often have to rely on her husband for support and assistance.

"I could not just commit myself to become First Minister without being able to properly work out with my family how we would be able to manage as a family."

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