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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Matt Watts and Josh Salisbury

Humza Yousaf elected by MSPs as Scotland’s new first minister

SNP leader Humza Yousaf has been voted in by MSPs as Scotland's youngest First Minister and the first from a minority ethnic background.

The 37-year-old succeeds Nicola Sturgeon, who formally tendered her resignation to the King on Tuesday after more than eight years in the post.

Mr Yousaf's selection at Holyrood follows him winning the SNP leadership contest on Monday, beating closest rival Kate Forbes by 52% of votes to 48%, when second preferences were included.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton all stood against Mr Yousaf for the position of First Minister in the Holyrood vote but failed to secure enough support.

The Glasgow Pollok MSP will now officially be sworn in as First Minister at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

Speaking prior to the vote, Mr Yousaf referred to the fact that he and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar are of Pakistani Muslim heritage, saying it was a “signal of progress” for Scotland.

“It's also quite a signal of the progress that we have made as a country, as well as a parliament, that two of the candidates putting themselves forward are from minority ethnic communities,” he told MSPs.

“That the majority of MSPs in this Parliament belong to parties led by two people of colour, two people of the Muslim faith.

“The fact that no-one bats an eyelid at this tells me we are making progress in our nation for which we should all be very, very proud.”

Viewed as the continuity candidate to Ms Sturgeon, Mr Yousaf had greater levels of publicly-declared support from SNP parliamentarians at both Holyrood and Westminster than the other candidates in the race.

Among his high-profile backers were outgoing Deputy First Minister John Swinney, and new SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn.

Mr Yousaf was first elected in 2011 as a regional MSP for Glasgow and was appointed a junior minister the following year, becoming Justice Secretary in 2018.

Ms Sturgeon, who was Scotland’s longest-serving first minister, announced last month she was stepping down.

The outgoing Scottish First Minister congratulated Mr Yousaf on his victory in the race to succeed her on Monday.

“He will be an outstanding leader & First Minister and I could not be prouder to have him succeed me,” she said.

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