Humza Yousaf: Who is the new FM and what should we expect?

Yousaf succeeds Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister after being elected SNP leader.

The new first minister Humza Yousaf moves into the job having been one of the Scottish Government’s most senior and high-profile ministers.

The 37-year-old, who was elected SNP leader on Monday and FM the following day, is a firm ally of his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon.

Yousaf began working as an SNP office manager after studying politics at Glasgow University.

He worked alongside Bashir Ahmad, the first MSP from an Asian and Muslim background, before stints with Sturgeon and Alex Salmond following Ahmad’s death in 2009.

After being elected in 2011 as a Glasgow region MSP, he took his oath to the Queen in English and in Urdu. He did the same when re-elected in 2016, wearing both a kilt and sherwani to reflect his Scottish and Pakistani heritage.

Yousaf’s first ministerial appointment came under Salmond’s leadership in September 2012, when he was given the external affairs and international development portfolio.

He stayed on in a junior ministerial role when Sturgeon became first minister, though he was then promoted to transport and later justice.

But his introduction of the Hate Crime Bill was not uncontroversial, with critics saying it put undue limits on free speech.

Humza Yousaf has most recently been health secretary.STV News

Perhaps his greatest challenge has come as health secretary, with Yousaf taking over the post from Jeane Freeman in 2021 as she stood down from Holyrood.

The coronavirus pandemic was still affecting Scotland at that point.

Throughout his time in the role, he has faced opposition attacks over the performance of the NHS, particularly A&E waiting times.


Yousaf said he would go to court to challenge the UK Government’s decision to block gender recognition reforms approved by the Scottish Parliament.

He has also denied allegations that he “ducked” the vote to legalise gay marriage in 2014 under pressure from a mosque.


Yousaf has said he could consider a snap Holyrood election as part of his Scottish independence strategy.

He has spoken about focusing on policies to build support, rather than process.


The new FM has spoken of “wellbeing economy”, putting “the equality, happiness and health of all Scotland’s citizens at its heart”.

During the campaign, he defended rises in income tax and outlined plans to fast-track free childcare for one and two year-olds.

Humza Yousaf is one of the government's most high-profile ministers.Getty Images


Yousaf has come under pressure in his role as health secretary amid soaring NHS waiting times.

He said improving patients’ experiences would be a focus for the “entire government”.

He also suggested he would take another look at controversial plans for a National Care Service.


Yousaf said he wanted to expand the provision of free school meals, breakfast clubs and after-school club.

He also spoken about reducing inequality, focusing on children in areas of high depravation.

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