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Nicola Sturgeon announces resignation in news conference

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced her resignation, saying the job “takes its toll on you and all around you”.

The SNP leader made the the shock announcement during a press conference in Edinburgh at her official residence, Bute House.

Nicola Sturgeon will stand down as First Minister of Scotland
Credit: Alamy

She said it had been “the very best job in the world” and one that has “sustained and inspired me in good times and in the toughest hours of my toughest days”.

But Ms Sturgeon said she believed part of “serving well would be to know almost instinctively when the time is right” to step down, adding: “In my head and in my heart I know that time is now, that it is right for me and my party and for the country.”

Nicola Sturgeon and Rishi Sunak met for dinner in early January
Credit: Reuters

The longest serving and first woman first minister insisted her decision was not down to “short term pressures”, such as the ongoing divisions in her party about transgender rights, but something she had been considering over weeks.

“I am not expecting violins here, but I am a human being as well as a politician,” she said. “Giving absolutely everything to this job… can only be done for so long [and for me is] now in danger of becoming too long.”

Ms Sturgeon confirmed she would stay in post until somebody else takes over and remain as an MSP until at least the next Holyrood election.

She said the SNP would announce the process for electing a new leader over the coming days, but refused to say who her preferred candidate would be.

Members of her party have begun paying tribute to her time in office, with SNP president Michael Russell thanking her for her “extraordinary and brilliant leadership of her party and country”.

SNP MP Alison Thewliss said she was “absolutely gutted” about the news, adding: “Nicola has been an incredible leader.”

Fellow MP Stewart McDonald, called Ms Sturgeon “the finest public servant of the devolution age” and said it would be “an enormous loss” to the country and party.

And another SNP MP, Kirsten Oswald, described her as “outstanding”, adding: “We’ve been so fortunate to have someone with her talents at the helm. I am so sorry she is standing down.”

Ms Sturgeon has led the party and the country since 2014 after taking over from her predecessor, Alex Salmond, making her the longest serving first minister since devolution to Holyrood.

But she has been involved in the SNP all her adult life, joining the party at the age of 16.

As first minister, she has secured election successes at every poll and continued to push for Scottish independence, campaigning for a second referendum on the decision.

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