Humza Yousaf hits out at ‘racist bigots’ as he steps down as First Minister

The Glasgow MSP will return to the backbenches after serving in the top job for 13 months.

Key Points
  • Humza Yousaf tenders resignation as Scotland’s sixth first minister
  • In his last speech as First Minister, Yousaf said serving Scotland was the ‘greatest privilege of my life’
  • He said he had ‘defied racist bigots’ by being the first person of colour to be Scottish First Minister
  • Yousaf will be succeeded by John Swinney who is expected to be voted through by MSPs this afternoon
  • Scottish Greens to abstain on vote meaning Swinney will have enough MSPs to become FM
  • Former first minister quit ahead of no-confidence motions in him and his government
  • He said it was an ‘honour’ to be the first person of colour to hold the top job

Humza Yousaf has officially resigned as Scotland’s First Minister ahead of a vote to elect his successor.

During his last speech as FM to the Scottish Parliament, he told how leading his country had given him the opportunity to defy “racist bigots”.

Yousaf became emotional as he said his heart would “forever belong to Scotland”.

The Scottish Government said the King had accepted his letter of resignation on Tuesday morning and that the Scottish Parliament has been notified.

Yousaf was replaced as SNP leader by John Swinney on Monday with the MSP set to be voted through as FM on Tuesday afternoon.

Yousaf was tearful as he delivered his goodbye speech to MSPs, saying: “I’ve had the greatest privilege of my life serving my country in government for almost 12 years, as minister for external affairs and international development, minister for transport, cabinet secretary for justice, cabinet secretary for health and social care and of course most recently as first minister.

“So my thanks must go to the people who gave me that opportunity by electing me to this place, the good people of Glasgow in 2011 and the fine people of Glasgow Pollok since 2016 who have continued to put their trust in me to stand up for them and to serve them.

“And also to my predecessors as first minister for giving this boy opportunities he could only have imagined in his wildest dreams.

“I’m grateful for the trust that you put in me over the years, because you see presiding officer a young Humza Yousaf could never have imagined that he would be able to lead this country.

“I was six years old when I was first told to go home, and I’m afraid since then it has been a regular occurrence, in fact almost daily if you look at my social media feeds and I won’t lie presiding officer, it is that racial slur that probably hurts me the most.”

The former SNP leader announced his intention to quit last week following a bitter falling out with his Scottish Greens colleagues in government.

He had ended the Bute House Agreement with the party and sacked its two leaders from the Cabinet ahead of a vote by Green members that could have ended the deal.

Co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater reacted furiously to the shock news and pledged to move against the now-former first minister in a vote of no-confidence.

During his resignation speech last Monday, he said it had been an “honour” to serve as Scotand’s first person of colour to hold the role of first minister.

Yousaf said he “could never have dreamt that one day I would have the privilege of leading my country”, noting that as a boy, people of minority ethnicities were not seen in senior governmental roles.

@stvnews Humza Yousaf became emotional as he paid tribute to his family. It comes as the First Minister announced his decision to quit as First Minister of Scotland. Read more on the STV News website. #stv #stvnews #scottishpolitics #humzayousaf #firstminister #scotland #resignation ♬ original sound – STV News

He served in Bute House for 13 months after winning the SNP leadership election that was sparked by the resignation of his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon.

His premiership got off to a rocky start after Police Scotland’s long-running investigation into the SNP’s funding and finances began making its first arrests.

Just weeks after being voted through as FM, the force arrested Peter Murrell – Sturgeon’s husband – with that being followed by the arrests of former party treasurer Colin Beattie and Sturgeon.

All were released pending further investigation at that point but last month officers charged Murrell with embezzlement of SNP funds.

During Yousaf’s time in office, he announced a nationwide council tax freeze, a trial on scrapping peak rail fares and effectively increased taxes on middle and higher earners.

Critics of Yousaf have pointed to the failed deposit return scheme, slipping education scores in international tests and NHS waiting times during his tenure.

He also announced the SNP’s independence strategy, which would see the Scottish Government try to begin negotiations with the UK Government to leave the union if the SNP won the majority of Westminster seats at the next election.

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