Anas Sarwar calls for Scottish election after Humza Yousaf resignation

Scottish Labour leader says office of first minister cannot be a 'revolving door or plaything of the SNP' as the party faces its third leader in two years.

The leader of Scottish Labour has called for an election in Scotland after the resignation of First Minister Humza Yousaf.

Anas Sarwar said the office of first minister cannot be a “revolving door or the plaything of the SNP” as the party faces its third leader in two years.

Yousaf became emotional as he quit as FM on Monday afternoon, saying he could not put his principles on the line to pass a no-confidence vote in Holyrood.

He said it was an “honour” to serve his country but said he was no longer the right person to do so.

The SNP will now hold a contest as it looks to replace Yousaf as leader of the party and the country.

But it could mean the SNP having a third first minister under one parliamentary term.

Sarwar told STV News: “For Scottish Labour, this has never been about one person, it’s been about the SNP and what we believe is 17 years of failure.

“And at a time when our country is crying out for serious leadership and a properly functioning government when we have the NHS crisis, the economic crisis, we instead have a dysfunctional, chaotic SNP leading an incompetent government that is failing Scots every day.

“And I don’t think it’d be appropriate for the SNP to put party before country and think they can have some kind of backroom stitch-up for what the next shape of the government looks like.

“I think that’s a decision for the Scottish people and that’s why we believe it should go to an election and the people should decide who governs our country.”

Sarwar said: “It should be for the people to decide – not a backroom deal”.

He said “the principle” of his party motion against the entire government still stands but would not say whether he would still table it this week.

“It’s also worth noting what did Nicola Sturgeon say when the Conservatives changed leader three times in their parliament in one term,” he added.

“She said it was not a revolving door or plaything of the Conservative Party.

“The exact same principle applies here.

“The office of first minister is not a revolving door or the plaything of the SNP – it’s for the people of Scotland to decide and that’s why there should be an election.”

First Minister Humza Yousaf announced his resignation on Monday.Getty Images

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton echoed those sentiments and said Scotland “needs a new government”.

He said: “Humza Yousaf’s resignation hurls the SNP another step closer towards the end. This is a stale government that has been in power too long.

“Scotland needs a new government – one that won’t make empty promises but will get the basics right.”

He added: “We can’t go on like this. This country can’t have yet another First Minister without an election.”

Yousaf’s former junior partners in government, the Scottish Greens, said now is the time to “return some stability”.

The party’s co-leader, Patrick Harvie, said: “Humza Yousaf is right to resign. His position was no longer tenable after he broke the bonds of trust with the Scottish Greens and with everyone who wanted a stable, progressive, pro-independence government.

“It is regrettable that it has ended this way, it didn’t need to. We draw no satisfaction or pleasure from this.

“But the Scottish Greens could no longer have confidence in Humza Yousaf after he chose to unilaterally end the Bute House Agreement.

“In doing so he let down the large majority of Scottish Green and SNP members who approved the agreement who wanted it to work.

“He chose to end a stable, majority government and jeopardised the progressive policy programme that both parties had committed to and were working to deliver.

“It is to his credit that he has taken personal responsibility. Now though is the time to return to some stability.”

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, who tabled the motion of no confidence in Yousaf as First Minister, said his party had “forced Humza Yousaf out of office for repeatedly failing Scotland”.

He told STV News: “The Scottish Conservatives delivered on our promise to be a strong opposition against Humza Yousaf and the SNP.

“There is no doubt that he wanted to continue as First Minister to continue with his reckless policies that have damaged Scotland.

“But facing a vote of no confidence brought forward by the Scottish Conservatives, he looked on course to be defeated and he has jumped before he was pushed.

“And I think it’s also important now that we remember he may be leaving the office of First Minister but the SNP are still the governing party in Scotland and the Scottish Conservative’s efforts will now be on beating SNP candidates up and down the country, be that in the general election when it comes this year or if we have an early Scottish parliamentary election.”

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