BREAKING: Nicola Sturgeon to resign as First Minister of Scotland

She's quitting as First Minister after nearly a decade in the role

Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has announced she is to resign as First Minister of Scotland. Having served as leader of the SNP and Scotland’s First Minister since 2014, she is set to step down after a new leader of her party is elected.

At a press conference in Edinburgh, Sturgeon said, “Since my very first moments in the job, I have believed that part of serving well would be to know almost instinctively when the time is right to make way for someone else, and when that time came to have the courage to do so, even if to many across the country and in my party it might feel too soon. In my head and in my heart, I know that time is now.”

Sturgeon described her time as First Minister as a “privilege beyond measure”, but said “it is right for me, for me party and for the country” for her to stand down.

She said that, “giving absolutely everything of yourself to this job is the only way to do it. The country deserves nothing less. But in truth that can only be done by anyone for so long. For me it is now in danger of becoming too long.”

Sturgeon is the longest serving First Minister in Scotland’s history with almost a decade in the role. She was also the first woman to hold the office. She led the party through continued electoral success, including the party’s best ever general election result in which the SNP won 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland in 2015.

In recent months, Sturgeon has faced significant political setbacks, following the Supreme Court ruling that the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to hold an independence referendum without the support of Westminster and the Conservative run UK government making an unprecedented intervention to overturn the Scottish Parliament’s reforms to the process of gender recognition.

In her resignation statement, Sturgeon acknowledged the setback on an independence referendum. She said, “We are at a critical moment. The blocking of a referendum as the accepted constitutional route to independence is a democratic outrage. But it puts the onus on us to decide how Scottish democracy will be protected and to ensure that the will of the Scottish people prevails.”

Following the announcement, her SNP colleagues have praised her time in office.

Stewart McDonald – SNP MP for Glasgow South said, “Nicola Sturgeon is the finest public servant of the devolution age. Her public service, personal resilience and commitment to Scotland is unmatched, and she has served our party unlike anyone else. She will be an enormous loss as First Minister and SNP leader.”

Ian Blackford, the former leader of the SNP in Westminster said, “Nicola Sturgeon is the finest First Minster Scotland has ever had, and the finest friend anyone could hope for. When Scotland wins independence, she will have been its architect and builder. She has laid the foundations we all now stand on. We owe it to her to finish the job.”

Politicians from other parties have also commented on her departure.

Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts has said, “For eight years, Nicola Sturgeon has led Scotland with indefatigable strength, compassion and intellect As Prime Ministers have come and gone, Nicola has stood resolute as a fierce advocate for Scotland”.

In a joint statement, Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater – co-leaders of the Scottish Green Party – said, “Nicola Sturgeon has truly been a major figure in Scottish and UK politics in her decisive, tireless and collaborative leadership through unprecedented challenges and we are sorry to see her step down.

“She is the most significant political figure of the devolution era. Whoever replaces her will have the strongest foundation to build forward the argument for delivering independence, for how we ramp up efforts to tackle the climate emergency and manage the cost of living crisis which continues to impact lives daily.”

The UK government’s Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack said, “Nicola Sturgeon has been a formidable politician and I think her for her service as First Minister for eight years.” He went on to say, “Her resignation presents a welcome opportunity for the Scottish Government to change course, and to drop its divisive obsession with independence.”

Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward

Image credit: Scottish Government – Creative Commons

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