John Swinney early favourite to become First Minister

John Swinney

JOHN Swinney is leading the pack to become Scotland’s next First Minister as nominations to become leader of the SNP officially open.

The former party leader has said he is “actively considering” running, while a number of key MPs and MSPs have already thrown their weight behind Mr Swinney, including Westminster leader Stephen Flynn.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

Why? Free to subscribe, no paywall, daily business news digest.

Kate Forbes, who narrowly lost out to Humza Yousaf in last year’s leadership election, is also giving “serious consideration” to running again, according to her campaign manager last year, Michelle Thomson.

Jenny Gilruth, who was tipped to run for the top job, has seemingly ruled herself out after she said: “John Swinney is the best choice to be Scotland’s First Minister. I will be strongly supporting him if, as I hope, he chooses to run.”

Neil Gray, an ally of Mr Yousaf who has also been tipped to run, is also set to offer support to Mr Swinney rather than run himself.

The ballot for party members to nominate is opened today and will remain open until midday next week. Nominations were open for two weeks prior to last year’s election, but the party are seemingly keen to get the race over quickly.

More to come from Swinney

Mr Swinney was coy when he was pressed on whether he would confirm if he was standing to become SNP leader.

He told Sky News: “I’m giving very careful consideration to standing to be the leader of the SNP. I’ve been somewhat overwhelmed by the requests that have been made of me to do that with many, many messages from many colleagues across the party.

“I’m giving that issue very active consideration and it’s likely I’ll have more to say about that in the days to come.”

On a strained relationship with the Greens, he added: “it’s important that those issues are considered carefully and handled with care.”

“Obviously, I spent a large amount of my time in government doing exactly that in the past. So, it’s important that those are the values and the characteristics that are brought to how we deal with other political parties, and particularly now the SNP will be a minority government in the Scottish Parliament.

“It’s important that there is an approach taken which ensures that we work carefully with all political parties in the Scottish Parliament.”

Humza’s crippling underestimation

In an emotional speech delivered in Bute House yesterday, Mr Yousaf said he had “clearly underestimated” the hurt he’d caused the Greens after ending the power-sharing agreement.

He added: “repairing the relationship across the political divide can only be done with someone else at the helm.”

The SNP leader had been facing two votes of no confidence this week. One was against him, tabled by the Scottish Conservatives, and another against the government, tabled by Labour.

The former is still set to go ahead, though Anas Sarwar said he will “see how the week plays out” before deciding if his motion goes ahead.

It would give parliament 28 days to choose a new First Minister, or parliament would be dissolved and a snap election called.

The Scottish Greens have said they will no longer support the motion for no confidence against the First Minister, meaning he will likely win the vote.

The latest stories