SNP’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney has announced that he will step back from the role when a new party leader is chosen.
Swinney, 58, has served as Nicola Sturgeon’s deputy since 2014 and has also served a handful of roles, including finance secretary, education secretary, and Covid recovery secretary. It comes after Sturgeon’s announcement that she would be resigning as party leader and First Minister of Scotland.
A leadership contest is currently underway for SNP members to choose their new party leader and First Minister. Swinney was tipped to throw his hat into the ring for the contest shortly after Sturgeon’s resignation, however he announced that he would not be putting himself forward for the role on 16 February.
Finance secretary Kate Forbes, transport secretary Humza Yousaf and former community safety minister Ash Regan have all been confirmed to be featured on the ballot later this month. Controversy surrounded Forbes’ campaign after she said that she would not have voted to legalise same-sex marriage in 2014 due to her religion. Yousaf remains the favourite win the election.
A new party leader and Scottish First Minister will be chosen by 27 March. The new deputy will be chosen by the successful leadership candidate at a later date.
What did John Swinney say in his resignation statement?
In a statement, Swinney, who formerly led the party from 2000 until 2004, described being in the role as the “privilege of my life”. He added: “There have been demanding commitments to fulfil over my nearly 16 years and I have decided that, when the First Minister is appointed later in March, I will stand down from Government.”
He also personally thanked Sturgeon for her support over his 16 years in government, saying: “Thank you for the opportunity you have given me to serve my country. I am indebted to you for your leadership, constancy, friendship and loyalty.
In response to his resignation, Sturgeon said in a statement: “I could not have wished for a better partner in government than you, and there is no doubt that our Scottish Government would have achieved much less had you not been in it. Please accept my thanks for your support, wisdom and, above all, friendship.”