John Swinney has announced his bid to take over from Humza Yousaf as SNP leader and Scotland’s first minister.

The Perthshire North MSP has spent a year on the backbenches after he stepped down as deputy first minister when Nicola Sturgeon resigned in 2023.

The search is currently on to find a new leader for the SNP and Scotland following Mr Yousaf’s resignation on Monday.

Nominations close at noon on Monday 6 May.

Prospective candidates will have to gain the support of 100 members from 20 different SNP branches to qualify for the contest.

Any potential ballot will then open at 12pm on Monday 13 May and will close at noon on Monday 27 May.

John Swinney pictured following Humza Yousaf’s resignation. Pic: PA

Mr Swinney has been an MSP since the Scottish parliament’s inception in 1999, serving North Tayside, and previously representing the same constituency at Westminster in 1997.

More on Humza Yousaf

Mr Swinney, who was also finance secretary under Alex Salmond’s government, is said by his supporters to have the experience needed to lead the country following Mr Yousaf’s departure.

Under Ms Sturgeon, he occupied several ministerial offices, including education secretary, COVID-19 recovery secretary and again in finance – taking over from Kate Forbes during her maternity leave.

Nicola Sturgeon MSP and John Swinney MSP during First Minster's Questions at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh. Picture date: Thursday January 11, 2024.
Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney during FMQs earlier this year. Pic: PA

During his time as Ms Sturgeon’s deputy, he cemented his reputation as a dogged defender of his boss, as well as an SNP stalwart.

However, he faced two close no-confidence votes in Holyrood, first over the handling of school exams during the pandemic, and his initial refusal to publish legal advice during the inquiry into the botched handling of harassment complaints against Mr Salmond.

The former SNP leader – who resigned from that post in 2004 following poor European parliament election results – ruled himself out of the 2023 leadership race to replace Ms Sturgeon, citing that he had to put his young family first.

Humza Yousaf speaks during a press conference at Bute House.
Humza Yousaf announcing his resignation at Bute House. Pic: PA

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Humza Yousaf announcing his resignation

Within hours of Mr Yousaf’s resignation, several senior figures within the SNP voiced their support for Mr Swinney, including the party’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, education secretary Jenny Gilruth, and MPs Pete Wishart, Ian Blackford and Alyn Smith.

Read more:
SNP stands at a crossroads – but what direction will party take?
Yousaf says toxic leadership contest would harm SNP and independence movement

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