Government: Scottish Prime Minister Yousaf resigns

Government: Scottish Prime Minister Yousaf resigns

With an almost presidential demeanor, Nicola Sturgeon made Scotland an anchor of stability for years. But since her surprising resignation, the British part of the country has not calmed down.

Scotland is facing a serious leadership crisis. Prime Minister Humza Yousaf announced his resignation on Monday, forestalling a vote of no confidence in the regional parliament. According to commentators, the 39-year-old had little chance of surviving the vote planned for this week. He was elected head of the Scottish National Party (SNP) at the end of March 2023 as the successor to Nicola Sturgeon and then became First Minister.

The emergency is self-inflicted: Yousaf terminated his cooperation with the Greens on Thursday and scared off his previous cooperation partner. He defiantly announced that he would lead a minority government in the future. But only the Alba splinter party offered him cooperation – and made tough demands in return. Yousaf refused. He said on Monday that he was not prepared to “disregard my values ​​and principles or do business with anyone just to stay in power.” The British newspaper “Telegraph” judged that Yousaf had “signed his own political death warrant.”

Several successor candidates in discussion

Now the SNP, which advocates independence from Great Britain, must find a successor to Yousaf within four weeks, who wants to continue in office until then. The candidates are former government deputy John Swinney and MP Kate Forbes, who narrowly lost the internal party vote to Yousaf 13 months ago. Health Minister Neil Gray and Education Minister Jenny Gilruth were also named. If parliament does not vote for a new head of government within 28 days, an early election will be held. The opposition Labor Party called for an immediate vote.

The cooperation with the Greens collapsed after Yousaf watered down the ambitious climate goal of reducing emissions by 75 percent by 2030. The SNP also backed away from the liberal agreement on issues of gender policy. When the dispute broke out, Yousaf pulled the ripcord and threw out the Greens, who also support independence and held two cabinet positions. The party then expressed personal disappointment in Yousaf. In his resignation announcement, the outgoing head of government apologized. Yousaf said he underestimated the pain of the decision. He appeared emotional as he thanked his wife and family for their support.

SNP has been in crisis since Sturgeon’s resignation

Yousaf was considered a confidant of long-time Prime Minister Sturgeon, in whose cabinet he held the post of Health Minister. His election after the surprising resignation of Sturgeon, who often appeared presidential, was initially seen as a sign of stability. But since he took office, the SNP has suffered several setbacks.

A liberal gender law, which was also controversial within the party, was vetoed by the British central government. Yousaf was unable to solve problems such as the extremely high number of drug-related deaths. There is also an affair surrounding the SNP finances. Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell, who was responsible for party finances as SNP general secretary, was recently charged with embezzlement.

Support for independence stable – but SNP slumps

Support for independence remains stable at around 50 percent in surveys. However, support for the SNP has recently fallen. In the British general election later this year, the social democratic Labor Party, which rejects independence, could overtake the SNP for the first time in a long time. The SNP, which has so far been seen as a progressive counterweight to the conservative British central government in London, is also threatened with a breaking point. If Kate Forbes, who has publicly spoken out against gay marriage and puts economic interests ahead of environmental policy, becomes Yousaf’s successor, the SNP is likely to move to the right – and could collapse.

Source: Stern

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