Who could replace Nicola Sturgeon as Scotland’s First Minister?

Nicola Sturgeon is set to step down as Scotland’s first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party with no apparent successor, but here are some of the SNP figures currently seen as potential frontrunners.

Kate Forbes, 32, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economy, was tipped as a possible future first minister even before she expertly delivered Scotland’s 2020 budget speech with just hours notice after her predecessor abruptly resigned in a texting scandal.

However, some in the SNP wonder if Forbes’ strong Christian faith and membership of the Free Church of Scotland, which holds very traditional views on issues like gay marriage, would make it difficult for her to lead an increasingly secular nation.

Angus Robertson, 53, Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, Foreign Affairs and Culture was the bookies’ favorite to replace Sturgeon in the hours after she announced her resignation.

Robertson is a confident public artist, well known to UK audiences since his time as SNP leader in Westminster until 2017. He speaks fluent German and is one of the most international senior members of the party.

John Swinney, 58, Deputy First Secretary and Acting Treasury Secretary, is considered one of the SNP’s safest hands. But his tenure as leader between 2000 and 2004 was miserable for both himself and the party, marked by electoral setbacks and open divisions.

Humza Yousaf, 37, has been considered one of the SNP’s brightest rising stars in recent years, but as health minister since 2021 he has faced a number of challenges, including the winter supply crisis. Some colleagues believe that this has diminished his political luster.

Keith Brown, 61, Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Veterans, is the SNP’s deputy leader and one of its most experienced ministers. However, as a former Marine who fought against Argentina in the 1982 Falklands War, Brown, like Swinney, could be seen as representing an older generation who may struggle to increase the party’s appeal to youth.

SNP members unhappy with Sturgeon’s pro-independence strategy would like to see a candidate from outside Cabinet. Some cite Stephen Flynn, 34, who was elected leader of the party in Westminster last year in what was seen as a challenge to Edinburgh’s leadership.

However, any SNP Member of Parliament would need to find a way to Holyrood to become a credible candidate for First Minister.

https://www.ft.com/content/3a156f18-7925-4d4d-b684-d09c6aee7c17 Who could replace Nicola Sturgeon as Scotland’s First Minister?

Adam Bradshaw

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