Kate Forbes has officially announced her leadership bid to replace Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister.
The finance secretary confirmed she would end her maternity leave early in order to stand in the SNP leadership race.
The 32-year-old, who has previously been touted as a future leader of the party, launched her campaign on Monday following the FM’s surprise resignation last week.
She joins health secretary Humza Yousaf and former community safety minister Ash Regan in standing for election.
It comes after constitution secretary Angus Robertson ruled out a bid for the top job at Holyrood.
In a campaign video published on social media, Forbes said: “The nation and the Yes movement are at a major crossroads. The choices we make in the next few weeks will have a profound impact on our future and our children’s future
“I cannot sit back and watch our nation thwarted on the road to self-determination. Our small, independent neighbours enjoy wealthier, fairer, and greener societies – and so can we.
“We urgently need to unleash the full talent of the SNP, the wider Yes movement and the country at large. We need to choose strong, competent leadership to deliver independence – the leadership that I can offer.”
She continued: “I believe we need somebody who can unite the party and the Yes movement. I will reach out and listen so that every member feels valued and able to contribute. That is important within the party, but it is also important if we are to persuade others of the merits of independence.
“We need a leader who is bold and brave and energised, who inspires confidence from the SNP membership and who inspires the confidence of the people of Scotland.
“From the youngest to the oldest, regardless of where you live or who you are. We need somebody who voters can trust, who has integrity and commitment. I am that leader – and I want to lead the party into better days.”
Forbes was thrust into the limelight by having to step in and deliver the Scottish budget at the 11th hour in 2020 after her predecessor, Derek Mackay, resigned in disgrace.
But the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, who is a Free Church of Scotland member, could be at odds with the wider party – and current policy – on some social issues, including the hotly-debated gender reforms blocked by the UK Government.
Candidates have until Friday to secure 100 nominations from at least 20 local branches to secure their place on the ballot, with the new SNP leader being announced on March 27.
More to follow.
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