Humza Yousaf wins race to replace Sturgeon as Scotland's next leader
Scottish nationalists picked Humza Yousaf to be the country’s next leader on Monday after a bitterly fought contest that exposed deep divisions in his party over policy and a stalled independence campaign.
The 37-year-old practicing Muslim will succeed Nicola Sturgeon as leader of the governing Scottish National Party (SNP) and, subject to a vote in the Scottish parliament, take over as head of the semi-autonomous government.
Yousaf takes over a party with an overriding objective to end Scotland’s three-centuries-long union with England.
But while about four in 10 Scots still support independence, according to a poll this month, the departure of Sturgeon – a charismatic and commanding leader – may slow some of the momentum behind a break-up of the United Kingdom.
There is no agreed strategy for how to force a new referendum – one of the reasons Sturgeon resigned.
Yousaf won 24,336 of the votes of the SNP’s members in the first round, while his main rival Kate Forbes 32, Scotland’s finance minister, came second with 20,559 votes.
Ash Regan, who quit the government because of her opposition to proposed changes to gender recognition, was third with 5,599 votes.
The frontrunner to replace Sturgeon, Yousaf has stressed continuity with her record, including her push to make it easier for transgender people to gain official recognition to change their gender.
While Forbes faced criticism when she announced her opposition to same-sex marriage, Yousaf said he supports it.
In 2016, Yousaf took his oath of allegiance in the Scottish parliament in Urdu while wearing a kilt.
Yousaf also said during the campaign an independent Scotland should look at ditching the British monarchy.
However, an opinion poll this month showed the backing for independence dropped to 39%, or 46% when “don’t knows” are excluded.