Nicola Sturgeon has officially resigned as first minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party. The announcement was made at a press conference at Bute House in Edinburgh.
Her resignation brings to an end a nine year tenure in office which began in 2014. Sturgeon replaced Alex Sammond as leader of the Scottish National Party and first minister of Scotland.
The role of first minister was described as “privilege beyond measure” by Nicola Sturgeon as she announced her intention to resign. She added that she will remain in the role until a successor has been found.
She said the decision was not a reaction to short term issues, and she pointed out her own resilience to stay in positions, as well as that it was “right” for herself, her party and her country.”
Ms Sturgeon said her decision to resign comes from a deeper and long term place and it is a decision she has “wrestled” with for “some weeks.”
She said that despite people thinking the decision is too soon, she knows it is the right time. Ms Sturgeon said: "in my head and in my heart, I know that time is now".
Looking to the future, she pointed out how the SNP is on course to win the next Scottish parliament election. She says they must “reach across the divide” of Scottish politics and hopes her replacement can do that.
Ms Sturgeon backed the SNP to carry on the progress achieved under her leadership and believed she could have led the party further but “someone who is not subject to quite the same polarised opinions,” would be in a better position to move the party forward.
Closing the speech, she thanked the people of Scotland for allowing her to be their leader and that“nothing I do in future will come anywhere close,” to being first minister.
In questions from the media, Ms Sturgeon said she will “will fight for women’s rights” as long as she has “breath in her body” and also that she will “stand up for any stigmatised, discriminated against marginalised, vulnerable group in society”. This was prompted by a question about the gender rights bill which was passed through the Scottish Parliament but blocked by Westminster.
The resignation has been hailed as significant as it is another UK political leader who will not be replaced with an election. It comes just months after the UK prime minister changed hands twice in less than 100 days.
When will a replacement for Nicola Sturgeon be confirmed?
A timetable for the leadership election is set to be outlined in the coming days, Ms Sturgeon confirmed after her speech. This will be set out by the SNP.
Throughout the speech, she gave little away in terms of who migth be in the running to replace her. She did, however, highlight that the SNP is “awash with talented individuals.”