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13 June, 2024
 
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Scotland's leader Yousaf steps down amidst turmoil

Yousaf's resignation paves way for labour in Scottish heartlands

Source: Reuters

Scotland's leader Humza Yousaf resigned on Monday, further opening the door to the UK opposition Labour Party regaining ground in its former Scottish heartlands during a national election expected to be held later this year.
 
Yousaf said he was quitting as head of the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) and first minister of Scotland's devolved government after a week of chaos triggered by his scrapping of a coalition agreement with Scotland's Greens.
 
He then failed to secure enough support to survive a vote of no confidence against him expected later this week.
Resigning little over a year after he replaced Nicola Sturgeon as first minister and SNP leader, Yousaf said it was time for someone else to lead Scotland.
 
"I've concluded that repairing our relationship across the political divide can only be done with someone else at the helm," Yousaf said, adding he would continue until a successor was chosen in an SNP leadership contest.
 
Yousaf abruptly ended a power-sharing agreement between his pro-independence SNP and the Green Party after a row over climate change targets.
 
The SNP's fortunes have faltered over a funding scandal and the resignation of Sturgeon as party leader last year. There has also been infighting over how progressive its pitch should be as it seeks to woo back voters.
 
Caught between defending the record of the coalition government and some nationalists' demands to jettison gender recognition reforms and refocus on the economy, Yousaf was unable to strike a balance that would ensure his survival.
 
The SNP is losing popular support after 17 years of heading the Scottish government. Earlier this month, polling firm YouGov said the Labour Party had overtaken the SNP in voting intentions for a Westminster election for the first time in a decade.
 
Labour's resurgence in Scotland adds to the challenge facing British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Conservative Party which is lagging far behind Labour in UK-wide opinion polls.
 
The Scottish parliament now has 28 days to choose a new first minister before an election is forced, with former SNP leader John Swinney and Yousaf's former leadership rival Kate Forbes seen as possible successors.
 
If the SNP is unable to find a new leader to command support in parliament, a Scottish election will be held.
 
Yousaf, the first Muslim head of government in modern Western Europe, succeeded Sturgeon as first minister in March 2023. Once hugely popular, Sturgeon has been embroiled in a party funding scandal with her husband, who was charged this month with embezzling funds. Both deny wrongdoing.
 
[Source: Reuters]
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