SNP begins search for new leader after Humza Yousaf quits as Scotland's first minister

For the second time in just over a year, the search is on for a new SNP leader and First Minister.

Humza Yousaf resigned from the post on Monday rather than face two confidence votes.

He said there would be a contest to replace him “as soon as possible” in a press conference at midday. John Swinney and Kate Forbes are considered to be the two frontrunners.

A tearful Mr Humza said he would remain in the role until his successor was chosen.

He had been under increasing pressure to step down since the collapse of his party’s power-sharing deal with the Scottish Greens last Thursday.

"Unfortunately in ending the Bute House Agreement in the matter I did I clearly underestimated the level of hurt and upset that caused Green colleagues,” he said.

"For a minority government to be able to govern effectively, trust when working with the opposition is clearly fundamental."

He said a route through the no-confidence vote was "absolutely possible".

But he added: "I am not willing to trade in my values or principles or do deals with whomever simply for retaining power."

"After spending the weekend reflecting on what is best for my party, for the government and for the country I lead, I have concluded that repairing our relationship across the political divide can only be done with someone else at the helm.

"I have therefore informed the SNP's national secretary of my intention to stand down as party leader and ask that she commences a leadership contest for my replacement as soon as possible."

Two confidence votes into Mr Yousaf’s authority were called for this week — one in him personally and another in his government tabled by Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar.

Labour demanded an election in Scotland as Mr Yousaf’s leadership collapsed.

The party’s deputy national campaign co-ordinator Ellie Reeves told Sky News: “No one voted for Humza Yousaf and given all of the chaos I think there should be an election up in Scotland so that people in Scotland can have their say on what’s happening up there.

“At the moment they are being failed by an SNP Government in Holyrood and a Conservative Government in Westminster.”

Labour hopes the bitter split between the Scottish National Party and the Greens, the chaos following Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation as SNP leader last year and allegations of financial wrongdoing in the party being investigated by police will bring more Scottish parliamentary seats into play for Sir Keir Starmer at the next election.

Mr Yousaf needed 64 votes to survive a confidence vote this week, but could only currently command 63 from the SNP.

It meant he required the support of at least one member of the opposition at Holyrood.

Alex Salmond’s Alba Party distanced itself from making such a deal over the weekend, leaving Mr Yousaf’s fate in the hands of the Scottish Greens.

But Alba’s only MSP Ash Regan, who defected from the SNP last year, was "open to discussions" on Monday morning, her colleagues said.

Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie said Mr Yousaf was no longer in a “position to be able to lead” and his resignation as First Minister was the "right" decision.

He said: "Humza Yousaf is right to resign. His position was no longer tenable after he broke the bonds of trust with the Scottish Greens and with everyone who wanted a stable, progressive, pro-independence government.

“It is regrettable that it has ended this way, it didn't need to. We draw no satisfaction or pleasure from this.

"But the Scottish Greens could no longer have confidence in Humza Yousaf after he chose to unilaterally end the Bute House Agreement. In doing so he let down the large majority of Scottish Green and SNP members who approved the agreement who wanted it to work.

"He chose to end a stable majority government and jeopardised the progressive policy programme that both parties had committed to and were working to deliver.

"It is to his credit that he has taken personal responsibility. Now though is the time to return to some stability."