SNP leadership contest: new leader will be chosen on 27 March after Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation

Nicola Sturgeon’s replacement will be chosen by 27 March, with the SNP’s special conference postponed

The SNP has announced that its new leader will be chosen by 27 March following Nicola Sturgeon’s shock resignation.

The party said that its upcoming special conference will be postponed in order for the membership to choose a new leader. The special conference was set to allow the SNP to decide upon its strategy for its campaign for independence, including the potential ‘de facto’ referendum at the next general election.

The resignation of the Scottish First Minister shocked the world of UK politics. She made the announcement that she would be stepping back from the top job on 15 February.

In a statement Lorna Finn, the SNP’s national secretary, said: “It would be wrong to have a newly elected leader tied to a key decision on how we deliver democracy in Scotland in the face of continued Westminster intransigence.

“Therefore, the party’s special democracy conference, previously planned for Sunday March 19, is postponed. SNP Members – the lifeblood of this party and movement – will be updated in due course on details of a rearranged event once the new party leader is in place.”

Nominations for candidates to take over the role of leader of the party will be open until 24 February. Senior members of the SNP such as Kate Forbes, Humza Yousef and John Swinney have all been mentioned as some potential names to replace Nicola Sturgeon.

The postponement of the special conference comes after Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said that the new leader of the party should be given the “opportunity” an “space” to put forward their plans before any decision around its independence strategy is made. He said: “I think it’s sensible that we do hit the pause button on that conference and allow the new leader the opportunity to set out their vision.”

Sturgeon has said that she will stay in place as leader and First Minister until a replacement has been chosen. She added that she would not be endorsing any one candidate to replace her.