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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Humza Yousaf elected as Scottish first minister in Holyrood vote

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SNP leader Humza Yousaf has been voted in by MSPs as Scotland’s youngest first minister and the first from a minority ethnic background.

The 37-year-old succeeds Nicola Sturgeon, who formally tendered her resignation to the King on Tuesday morning after announcing her intention to stand down last month after more than eight years in the post.

Mr Yousaf’s election at Holyrood comes after he won the SNP leadership contest on Monday, beating closest rival Kate Forbes by picking up 52 per cent of votes compared to her 48 per cent, when second preferences were included.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton all stood against Mr Yousaf for the position of First Minister in the Holyrood vote but failed to secure enough support.

Mr Yousaf won the votes of 71 fellow MSPs, with members of the SNP and Greens backing his candidacy for first minister.

The 31 Tory MSPs voted for Mr Ross while 22 of the Labour contingent voted for Mr Sarwar. The four Lib Dem MSPs backed their leader, Mr Cole-Hamilton.

Speaking ahead of the vote, Mr Yousaf referred to the fact that he and Mr Sarwar are of Pakistani Muslim heritage.

Mr Yousaf said: “It’s also quite a signal of the progress that we have made as a country, as well as a Parliament, that two of the candidates putting themselves forward are from minority ethnic communities.

“That the majority of MSPs in this Parliament belong to parties led by two people of colour, two people of the Muslim faith.

“The fact that no-one bats an eyelid at this tells me we are making progress in our nation for which we should all be very, very proud.”

He said his Government would “listen carefully and pay respect” to the views of all MSPs while standing up to any attempts to “undermine devolution”.

Mr Sarwar pledged to continue to work alongside the new First Minister in their fight against racism.

The Scottish Labour leader welcomed Humza Yousaf to his position as the first Scottish first minister from an ethnic minority background, saying: “It is something our grandparents would never, ever have imagined when they arrived in this country and made Scotland their home.”

He added: “I know that he (Mr Yousaf) has faced personal abuse and racism, as have so many others who don’t have the platform that he and I are fortunate to have.

“I am proud of the work we have done alongside others to stand against hatred and bigotry, and my promise is that I will continue to stand alongside you in that fight for all of us.”

Britain’s Scottish secretary Alister Jack congratulated Mr Yousaf, adding: “The UK government wants to work constructively with him on the issues that matter to people in Scotland.”

He said he was “pleased” that Mr Yousaf told the Scottish Parliament he also wants to work together.

Mr Jack added: “I hope that Mr Yousaf will govern for the whole of Scotland. In particular, I hope he will put his obsession with independence aside and concentrate on working with the UK Government to make life better for people in Scotland.”

The Glasgow Pollok MSP will now officially be sworn in as First Minister at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

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