SNP received ‘immediate lift’ after Swinney leadership bid, says depute

Keith Brown said the ‘field is clearing’ as it is expected that John Swinney will run unopposed.

SNP received ‘immediate lift’ after Swinney leadership bid, says Keith Brown PA Media

The SNP has received an “immediate lift” in canvassing sessions as John Swinney prepares to become its next leader, the party’s depute leader has claimed.

Keith Brown said the “field is clearing” as it is expected that Swinney will run unopposed and be confirmed as SNP leader later on Monday.

Nominations close at noon in the race to replace Humza Yousaf as the leader of the SNP.

There were reports of a potential contest on Sunday when activist Graeme McCormick said he had the secured 100 nominations from 20 branches needed to run against Swinney.

But later on Sunday, he confirmed he had backed out of the campaign after “lengthy and fruitful” conversations with Swinney.

Swinney, a former deputy first minister, had warned earlier that a contest could damage the party’s chances of recovering from a “difficult” period.

Keith Brown said Mr Swinney would scare their pro-Union opponents.PA Ready

Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme, Brown said it is important to respect the SNP’s democratic processes.

With a few hours to go until the nomination deadline closes, Brown said: “It seems to be that the field is cleaning somewhat and it looks like John Swinney might be the sole nominee.”

Brown described Swinney as the “biggest hitter in the SNP” who would scare unionist parties “to a great extent”.

He continued: “I also understand over the course of the weekend, of course, we’ve people out canvassing and they’ve reported already an increase in positive turnout coming back from those canvassing sessions.

“So there’s been an immediate lift from the discussions which John Swinney has had first of all with Kate Forbes and, it now appears, with Graeme McCormick.”

It was also initially thought that former finance secretary Forbes would contest the leadership, but Swinney heaped praised on his potential rival, saying she would be offered a “significant” job in his team after she confirmed she would not run against him.

Assuming there are no last-minute challengers, the leadership bid will not have to be put to SNP members, with Swinney clear to take over.

He is likely to become Scotland’s next first minister, the third in just over a year, as early as Tuesday.

The Scottish Government Cabinet will meet on Tuesday, with MSPs later given the opportunity to elect a new first minister at some point in the Holyrood schedule.

Swinney would then have to swear three oaths of office at the Court of Session in Edinburgh before officially becoming first minister.

The leadership race was triggered after Yousaf confirmed his intention to resign last week after he abruptly ended the powersharing agreement with the Scottish Greens, facing significant backlash in Holyrood and a vote of no confidence in his leadership.

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