• Thursday, July 25, 2024


Who could replace Yousaf as Scotland’s first minister?

The possible names are John Swinney, Kate Forbes, Stephen Flynn, Neil Gray and Jenny Gilruth.

Humza Yousaf and his wife Nadia El-Nakla depart Bute House following his resignation as First minister on April 29, 2024 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

SCOTLAND’s first minister Humza Yousaf stepped down on Monday (29) saying he was not the right candidate to rebuild ties with other parties after he ended a coalition with the Greens and faced defeat in confidence votes this week.

Here are some of the possible candidates to be the next Scottish National Party (SNP) leader.


Swinney led the SNP from 2000-2004, served as deputy leader to Nicola Sturgeon from 2014-2023, and is the favourite to succeed Yousaf.

He said he was “actively considering” whether to stand in the race and had been “somewhat overwhelmed” with requests to do so.

As Sturgeon’s deputy, he is closely linked to her time in power and backed the gender recognition reform bill that has prompted a backlash from some SNP lawmakers. He also served as finance minister and minister for Covid recovery.

Swinney did not serve in Yousaf’s government after 16 years working in various posts. The Times earlier reported that Swinney was reluctant to become leader due to personal circumstances.


Forbes is a former finance minister who came second to Yousaf in the race to succeed Sturgeon last year, getting 48 per cent of the final votes.

She has criticised his approach to gender reform, oil and the economy, but wished him well, saying he was an “honourable man who displayed dignity and humility today.”

Last year, her campaign swiftly ran into controversy when she said she would have opposed gay marriage, sparking upset among many members of her own party. She apologised and said that while her Christian faith informs her personal views, she would respect the rights of gay people.


Flynn is the SNP’s leader in the UK parliament at Westminster, and his weekly parliamentary exchanges with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have helped to lift his public profile.

He has argued that the SNP leader should sit in the Scottish parliament as a lawmaker (MSP), with the ability to become first minister, rather than in Westminster, but has said he has ambitions to sit in the Scottish parliament.

Flynn indicated his support of Yousaf’s record, saying he had “laid the groundwork required to take our country forward”.


Gray is currently Scottish health minister. He said Yousaf had put the interests of the nation before his own, without indicating whether he himself would stand.


Gilruth has held a range of ministerial posts, including culture and transport, and is currently education minister. She is married to Kezia Dugdale, the former leader of Scottish Labour.


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