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Scotland's pro-independence Prime Minister Humza Yousaf resigns

Photo: Andrew Milligan Agence France-Presse Speaking from his official residence at Bute House in Edinburgh on Monday, Prime Minister Humza Yousaf announced his resignation as leader of Scotland.

Andy Buchanan – Agence France-Presse and Marie Heuclin – Agence France-Presse in Edinburgh and London respectively

Published yesterday at 9:58 p.m.

  • Europe

Scottish pro-independence Prime Minister Humza Yousaf resigned on Monday, unable to create a new governing coalition after falling out with his Green allies.

< p>His upcoming departure – he will remain in post until a successor is appointed – is a new test for his party, the SNP, which is struggling to recover from the surprise resignation of former Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon last year, as the independence cause lost steam.

Speaking from his official residence at Bute House in Edinburgh, the 39-year-old leader acknowledged its failure and felt that overcoming current divisions “can only be done by someone else at the helm.”

After his decision to end his alliance with the Scottish Greens last Thursday, he faced two motions of no confidence supported by numerous opposition groups in Parliament, leaving him with little hope of saving his head.

The first Muslim leader at the head of a major political party in the United Kingdom, Humza Yousaf was elected in March 2023 and embodied continuity with his predecessor, continuing to carry the fight high for Scottish independence despite the faltering popularity of the SNP.

On Monday, he defended his choice to end the coalition with the environmentalists, on the back of disagreement over the country's environmental policy and a recent government decision to suspend the prescription of puberty blockers to transgender youth.

“It was the right decision for the country,” he said, even if he admitted having “clearly underestimated the level of pain and anger” it had generated.

The “real subjects”

Parliament now has 28 days to appoint a new prime minister and the SNP, positioned on the left, must find a new leader capable of finding new allies or leading a minority government.

Among the names mentioned are the former minister of Finance under Nicola Sturgeon, Kate Forbes, who lost to Humza Yousaf last year, or even John Swinney, Deputy Prime Minister from 2014 to 2023.

The parliamentary leader of the pro-independence Alba party, Ash Regan, said she was ready to work with the next Scottish Prime Minister, while Humza Yousaf had rejected any alliance with her party.

In London, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the British government would work with the future leader “on the real issues that people care about,” citing the economy, jobs and energy security.

The youngest leader at the head of the SNP, Humza Yousaf, who was praised for his communication skills, will not have succeeded in turning the page on Sturgeon.

His thirteen months in power, in the midst of a cost of living crisis, were especially marked by his clashes with London, for example on a Scottish law on gender change, ultimately blocked by the British government, and on the position of the United Kingdom. United in the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, or even on the authorization of a major oil project in the North Sea.

Ambush plowing

“He knew his time was over […]. His authority, which had never been strong since his arrival at the head of the SNP, has gradually declined,” James Mitchell, professor of political science at the University of Edinburgh, told AFP.

He also believes that the difficulties of the SNP, threatened by Labor in full rise in Scotland, also come from its “neglect of people's daily problems” to focus on its fight for self-determination of Scotland.

This fight has been at an impasse since the British Supreme Court ruled at the end of 2022 that only the British government could authorize a new referendum .

The last vote, in 2014, was won by a “no” to independence by 55%.

“Independence is desperately close […] but the “The last miles of the marathon are the most difficult”, Humza Yousaf insisted again on Monday, saying he was “certain” that his successor “will lead us to the finish line”.

The party is also under investigation into its finances, in which Nicola Sturgeon has been questioned by police, and her husband, Peter Murrell, the party's former chief executive, has been charged with embezzlement.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116