The Scottish National Party (SNP) has begun the search for a new leader to take the place of Nicola Sturgeon, who stunned the political world on Wednesday when she announced her resignation as Scotland’s First Minister. While there is no clear frontrunner for the position, potential contenders include Scotland’s Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes; External Affairs Secretary, Angus Robertson; Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf; and Deputy First Minister, John Swinney.
Stephen Flynn, the Member of Parliament for Aberdeen South and current leader of the SNP at Westminster, has suggested that the special party conference scheduled for March 19 to discuss the strategy for a second independence referendum should be postponed. He believes the conference should be paused until the new leader and First Minister are appointed, allowing them to set out their values and intentions.
Michael Russell, SNP president, expects there to be a contested election for the leadership, but he anticipates it will be a shorter campaign than the Conservative Party’s summer-long race to replace Boris Johnson.
Angus Robertson, a close ally of Sturgeon, is seen as a likely frontrunner for the position. He is expected to push ahead with the gender reform bill. Kate Forbes, 32, Finance Secretary and member of the Free Church of Scotland, has previously expressed concerns about rushing legislation to change gender definitions, and may seek to quietly shelve the gender reform legislation altogether.
Sturgeon resigned a month after the UK government blocked her attempts to pass radical gender reforms which would have made Scotland the first country in the world to allow people to legally change their gender based on self-identification.
The SNP’s poll ratings have dropped from more than 50 percent in December 2019 to 43 percent in November 2022, according to the Independent. Labour Party leader in Scotland, Anas Sarwar, believes people are now coming to terms with the possibility of a Labour UK government.
PA Media contributed to this report.