Scotland’s leader Humza Yousaf quits

Humza Yousaf resigned as Scotland’s first minister Monday, plunging the devolved nation into fresh political uncertainty.

Yousaf — under major pressure after breaking off a power-sharing agreement between his Scottish National Party and the left-wing Scottish Greens last week — told a press conference in Edinburgh that repairing frayed ties with the country’s opposition parties could “only be done with someone else at the helm.”

He said he intended “to continue as first minister until my successor has been elected” but that he would be vacating the post after a leadership election in the pro-Scottish independence SNP.

His exit triggers the second SNP leadership fight in two years. Yousaf only came to power after long-running First Minister Nicola Sturgeon unexpectedly called time on her own premiership.

His position has been in peril since he moved to end the power-sharing deal between the SNP and Greens last Thursday amid a bitter row over ditched climate targets.

The manner of the break-up enraged the Greens’ leadership, which said it would support opposition efforts to remove Yousaf via a confidence vote in the Scottish Parliament. Yousaf was also facing a separate confidence vote on his entire government.

Speaking Monday, Yousaf — who was moved to tears as he thanked his family — said “while a route through this week’s motion of no confidence was absolutely possible,” he was “not willing to trade my values and principles” with ” whomever simply to retain power.” The outgoing first minister conceded that, in ditching the coalition deal with the Scottish Greens, he “had underestimated the level of hurt and upset that caused Green colleagues.”

Yousaf — whose party faces a police probe into its finances — had meanwhile struggled to reverse the SNP’s poor performance in opinion polling ahead of a Westminster election later this year.

This developing story is being updated.


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