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Sturgeon is Scotland's longest-serving first minister PA Images

Nicola Sturgeon resigns as Scotland's first minister

She said she cannot give the role “every ounce of energy that it needs”.

NICOLA STURGEON HAS resigned as Scotland’s first minister after more than eight years in the role.

The Scottish National Party leader made the announcement at a press conference at her official residence, Bute House in Edinburgh, shortly after 11am.

Sturgeon said that being Scottish First Minister is “the very best job in the world, it is a privilege beyond measure”.

She said the role has “sustained and inspired me in good times and through the toughest hours of my toughest days”.

She said resigning was a difficult decision to make, and one she has wrestled with for several weeks. Ultimately, she cannot give the role “every ounce of energy that it needs”.

Sturgeon will remain in the role until the SNP appoints a successor.

She said resigning is “not a reaction to short-term pressures”, noting: “There are difficult issues facing the government, but when is that not the case?”

She said she made the decision after reflecting on her overall time in office and the personal toll it has taken on her and her family.

I am very proud to stand here as the first female and longest-serving minister of this office… I am very proud of what has been achieved.

She added that, since her very first moments in the job, she knew that “part of serving well would be to know when the time is right to make way for someone else”.

Sturgeon noted that while some people, in her party and the general public, will feel as though she is leaving office too soon, she knows “in my head and my heart” it’s the right time to go.

“Some people will feel upset… others will cope with the news just fine,” she stated.


Rising to power unopposed after the ill-fated independence referendum in 2014, Sturgeon took over from Alex Salmond, the mentor with whom she would come into conflict in the years to come over the handling of sexual harassment allegations made against him.

She was the first female First Minister since the creation of the Scottish Parliament, a time which saw her lead the SNP to repeated election victories at UK, Scottish and local level.

Sturgeon today said she believes in Scottish independence “with every fibre of my being” and is certain it will happen.

“I believe I have led this country closer to independence, I believe we are in the final phase of that journey.

“I believe that my successor, whoever he or she may be, will lead Scotland to independence, and I’ll be there cheering him or her on every step of the way.”

The SNP will meet next month to discuss the holding of treating the next UK election as a “de facto referendum”, with more than 50% of the vote being considered a mandate to begin negotiations for Scotland to become an independent country.

Gender Recognition Reform

Sturgeon has been mired in controversy in recent months as her government sought to push through gender reforms.

The UK Government blocked the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Act which made it easier to self-identify as a chosen gender. Similar legislation has been enacted in other countries such as Ireland.

Sturgeon has also struggled to deal with the housing of transgender prisoners in women’s facilities after a double rapist was sent to a female jail – a decision that was later reversed.

Last month she said that ministers were dealing with “difficult issues” in an “appropriate” way.

When asked during the press conference if this particular issue led to her resignation, she said: “No, that issue wasn’t the final straw.”

Sturgeon said she regrets that there hasn’t been a more “rational” discussion on transgender rights.

I will always be a voice for inclusion, for equality, for human rights and dignity.

She said she is, always has been and always will be a feminist, and will always “fight for women’s rights”.

Likewise, she said she will always stand up for marginalised groups like the trans community, noting how important it is that people receive appropriate care and support.


Reacting to her resignation, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar paid tribute to Sturgeon.

“I had the pleasure to work with Nicola through the British Irish Council and met her on a number of occasions. I also welcomed her to Government Buildings in Ireland during my first tenure as Taoiseach.

“I always found Nicola a very warm person, articulate and thoughtful, and a very capable politician, who showed huge commitment to her country. She was also a true European. I wish Nicola and her family the very best for the future,” he said in the Dáil this afternoon.

Also speaking during Leaders’ Questions, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald described Sturgeon as an “outstanding” leader and advocate for independence.

McDonald’s Sinn Féin colleague Michelle O’Neill said Sturgeon is “a formidable leader” who “made huge strides in advancing Scottish independence & standing up for Scottish interests”.

“Her leadership will be missed,” she added.

President Michael D Higgins also paid tribute to Sturgeon, saying that her contribution to public life as First Minister of Scotland has been recognised in Scotland and abroad “as a particularly distinguished one”.

“During her time in office, Nicola Sturgeon brought a freshness and enthusiasm to the tasks of representation and public service that was singular,” the president said.

“This was exemplified in the leadership she displayed during the COVID-19 pandemic, when she communicated necessary reassurance with the sharing of practical measures that had to be taken.

“Nicola Sturgeon has combined these skills with a warm sense of hospitality, which I encountered when I visited Scotland in 2016. At both this meeting, and on her visit to Áras an Uachtaráin the same year, I was struck by her willingness to discuss contemporary events with a frankness and a respect for complexity and mutual understanding that was very helpful.

“May I extend my best wishes to Nicola and her family for the future.”

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak thanked Sturgeon for her “long-standing service”.

With reporting by Órla Ryan and Jane Moore

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