Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced her resignation on Wednesday after leading her devolved government for more than eight years, sending a shock wave to UK politics on both sides of the border.
The leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) said “in my head and in my heart” she knew the time was right to step down after a decade in power for Scottish independence.
The 52-year-old confirmed she would remain First Minister until the SNP elects a new leader, and would also remain as a member of the Scottish Parliament until at least the next election in 2026.
She departs after facing increasing pressure on her strategy for independence and transgender rights.
But in a hastily arranged news conference, Sturgeon insisted her decision to step down was “not a reaction to short-term pressures” and “comes from a thorough and long-term assessment”.
“I know it may sound sudden, but I’ve been wrestling with this — with oscillating levels of intensity — for a few weeks,” she said.
“I am a human being as well as a politician,” he said.
“Giving our all to this cause is the only way to do it. The country deserves nothing less. But really it can only be done by someone for so long.”
– ‘formidable’ –
Political allies and opponents across Britain paid tribute, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak praising her “long term service” and wishing Sturgeon “the best of luck in her next steps”.
The UK government’s Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack, called him “a formidable politician”, as well as urging his eventual successor in the SNP to “abandon his divisive obsession with independence”.
Northern Ireland’s First Minister-elect Michelle O’Neill, vice-chairman of the pro-Irish party Sinn Fein, also praised her “friend”, saying that Sturgeon “leaves a legacy for which anyone in politics or public life can would be proud”.
Sturgeon, who became the first woman to lead Scotland after taking power in 2014, vowed to continue to push for Scottish independence while defending her record on the touchstone issue.
“I firmly believe that my successor, whoever he is, will lead Scotland towards independence and I will be cheering him on every step of the way,” she said.
Sturgeon oversaw an unprecedented electoral success for the SNP as she pushed for another referendum.
He took power after the last vote, in which the Scots rejected separation from the rest of the UK by more than 10 percentage points, and is stubbornly pushing for another vote.
But that has recently been blocked by the UK government, which must approve another referendum.
It insists that the September 2014 vote was a once-in-a-generation event and that Scotland has refused to allow another, despite voting against Brexit in 2016.
– Backwards –
In 2021, the SNP won a fourth consecutive term in power in Edinburgh on a platform of holding a new independence referendum after Brexit, recording the largest share of the popular vote.
But it fell one short of an outright majority, and forged a coalition with the Greens to remain in power.
The Scottish Parliament and its ruling executive were formed in 1999 as part of devolution reforms carried out by the Labor government in London at the time.
But from 2021 onwards, the push for independence has stalled, with a flurry of recent opinion polls showing a waning support for a break in Scotland.
Some critics, even within the SNP, have blamed Sturgeon for failing to deliver a winning strategy on the issue, after the Supreme Court in November sided with the UK government in blocking a new vote. .
She has also faced backlash over her support for transgender rights, after becoming embroiled in a controversy over whether transgender women could be housed in all-female prisons.
Despite this, as recently as last month she insisted she would remain first minister, telling the BBC she was “nowhere” to step down following Jacinda Ardern’s shock departure as New Zealand prime minister. Was ready
Sturgeon said on Wednesday she would not publicly endorse her preferred successor, with Finance Secretary Kate Forbes among the leading names.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
featured video of the day
“Nothing To Hide”: Amit Shah On Opposition’s Allegations On Adani Row