Nicola Sturgeon announces she is to step down as SNP leader
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Two candidates have announced their bid to replace Nicola Sturgeon as leader of the Scottish National Party. Scottish health secretary Humza Yousaf and former minister Ash Regan have both put themselves forward as the first candidates. Ms Sturgeon announced she was stepping down last week, triggering the first leadership content in almost 20 years. After more than eight years in power Ms Sturgeon said she not longer had the stamina to continue the role.
Announcing his bid Mr Yousaf said the job needs someone “who has experience” saying he thinks he is the best person for the job.
He said: “You’ve got to put yourself forward if you think you’re the best person for the job. And I do. This is the top job in the country, and it needs somebody who has experience.”
He paid tribute to Ms Sturgeon saying she has been an “incredible party leader and an exceptional First Minister”.
Ms Yousaf added that he was putting himself forward because he believes in independence “with every fibre of my being” adding that it is “needed now more than ever before”.
Announcing her bid, Ms Regan said she is the right person to “bring back unity, draw a line under certain things and move past them”.
She said: “I will reinvigorate the party, give power to the members and take our party on to further success. Independence – nothing less.”
The former community safety minister – who resigned from her position in protest against gender recognition reforms – promised a government she leads would be based on “competency” and would seek to deliver on “the nation’s priorities”.
So far they are the only two candidates with deputy first minister John Swinney ruling himself out of the race, as well as SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn.
Candidates have until Friday to receive more than the threshold of 100 nominations from at least 20 local branches.
If more than one candidate passes that mark, an election will be triggered, concluding on 27 March.
Annoucing she was stepping down Ms Sturgeon said “in my head and in my heart” she believed this was the right time for her to quit and build a new career outside politics.
She said: “A first minister is never off duty. Particularly in this day and age, there is virtually no privacy. Ordinary stuff that most people take for granted, like going for a coffee with friends or for a walk on your own, becomes very difficult.
“And the nature and form of modern political discourse means there is a much greater intensity – dare I say it, brutality – to life as a politician than in years gone by. All in all, it takes its toll on you and on those around you.”
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