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Sturgeon looks relaxed as she returns home after resignation speech
Time to relax, Nicola? Beaming Sturgeon returns home to Glasgow in a comfy hoodie after her bombshell resignation as First Minister – as SNP officials meet to decide how to choose her successor and party admits to huge blow for independence push
- Nicola Sturgeon beams as she returns home to Glasgow a day after resigning
- The departing First Minister dons a dark hoodie, jeans and white trainers
A beaming Nicola Sturgeon today donned casual clothes as she returned home to Glasgow a day after her bombshell resignation rocked Scottish politics.
The departing SNP leader wore a dark hoodie, jeans and white trainers as she was photographed stepping out of a car and walking to her front door.
She is quitting as Scotland’s longest-serving First Minister – after more than eight years in Bute House – amid fierce rows at Holyrood over independence and gender identity reforms.
The SNP’s ruling body was due to meet this evening to discuss the process for replacing Ms Sturgeon as party leader and First Minister.
A string of top SNP figures are being linked with the party’s top job. But Stephen Flynn, the SNP leader of Westminster, revealed he does not plan a leadership bid.
He today admitted Ms Sturgeon had left no clear path to Scottish independence for her successor.
And Mr Flynn stressed the First Minister’s replacement must address public concern over transgender rights.
A beaming Nicola Sturgeon today donned casual clothes as she returned home to Glasgow a day after her bombshell resignation rocked Scottish politics
The departing SNP leader wore a dark hoodie, jeans and trainers as she was photographed stepping out of a car and walking to her front door
Ms Sturgeon is quitting as Scotland’s longest-serving First Minister after more than eight years in Bute House
As he spoke to the BBC about the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill – passed under Ms Sturgeon by the Scottish Parliament – Mr Flynn said there had been ‘understandable concern’ about high-profile cases where sex attackers born as men had been placed in female-only prisons.
‘I think what needs to happen is we need to have a lot more light rather than shade in this debate,’ he said.
‘This legislation was put in place to protect some of the vulnerable people in society, to offer them better opportunities in life as well.
‘I think it is incumbent upon a new leader to try to find a path which allows us to have this positive discussion as to why this legislation is necessary, while of course addressing the understandable concerns that have arisen in the public domain.’
Mr Flynn also suggested the SNP’s planned conference to discuss the next steps in its independence push could now be delayed.
As many as five SNP figures are expected to run to replace Ms Sturgeon in what could be a bloody fight between her allies and more socially conservative figures.
The SNP’s ruling body was due to meet this evening to discuss the process for replacing Ms Sturgeon as party leader and First Minister
Stephen Flynn, the SNP’s leader in Westminster, admitted Ms Sturgeon had left no clear path to Scottish independence for her successor
A man opens a bottle of champagne with Unionist supporters in Glasgow’s George Square last night
Ms Sturgeon had previously vowed to defend the gender identity legislation after Westminster enacted never-before-used powers to block her bid to make it easier to change gender in Scotland.
Holyrood has until mid-April to challenge London’s decision but the race to replace Ms Sturgeon is likely to run until at least that deadline – plunging hopes of resurrecting the policy into serious doubt, even if it is not officially ditched.
An SNP source told The Telegraph: ‘We need to get back on track by pursuing things that matter to the people of Scotland, not pushing stuff that the public is vehemently opposed to.
‘I expect the gender reforms to be parked somewhere as quickly as possible. Any sensible new leader will want to get that off the front pages, and quickly.’
Standing down now means Ms Sturgeon will avoid running a legal challenge she was likely to lose, or not launching an objection at all, both of which would have severely weakened her position.
Ms Sturgeon yesterday insisted the row over the plan, passed by the Scottish parliament in December, was not the ‘final straw’ that led to her resignation – despite it deepening divisions within her party.
SNP president Michael Russell has said he expects that process to be shortened and for there to be a contested election.
Though there is no obvious candidate to succeed Ms Sturgeon, potential candidates include external affairs secretary Angus Robertson; finance secretary Kate Forbes; health secretary Humza Yousaf and deputy first minister John Swinney.
Labour was last night also looking to capitalise on Ms Sturgeon’s shock resignation, hoping it would help Sir Keir Starmer reach Downing Street.
Labour were last night looking to capitalise on Nicola Sturgeon’s shock resignation hoping it would help Sir Keir Starmer reach Downing Street
Since the 2015 general election, when it lost 40 of its 41 MPs north of the border, Labour has largely remained in the political wilderness in Scotland.
It won seven seats in the 2017 election, but this fell to one again in 2019 as Ms Sturgeon hoovered up Left-leaning voters trying to block a pro-Brexit Tory party from storming to victory in Westminster. Tory seats in Scotland fell from 13 in 2017 to six in 2019.
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But Ms Sturgeon’s departure potentially leaves the door open for a Labour comeback in Scotland, helping the party win a majority and the keys to No 10 at the next election, likely to be in autumn next year.
One Labour MP with knowledge of the party’s Scottish strategy said: ‘There are some seats where the Tories are capable of a comeback, but Labour stands to be the biggest beneficiary given the number of seats where there’s been Labour representation historically.
‘The internal struggles of the SNP are making it almost unmanageable now for them to maintain the success that Sturgeon had and we’ll try and exploit that.
‘Sturgeon may be hoping she can defuse it by stepping down, but the SNP’s problems run much deeper.’
One message they may look to drive home, added the MP, was that voting in a Labour government in Westminster would be a quicker and easier way of toppling ‘hated’ Tory rule than trying to secure another independence referendum, win it and then apply to re-join the European Union.
Another Labour figure said: ‘We were already on the upward trajectory and [Scottish Labour leader] Anas Sarwar is seen as a credible insurgent and this helps hugely.’
A third senior party official told Politico: ‘Politics is about seizing your breakthrough moments. We intend to seize this.’
Sir Keir is due to give a speech at Scottish Labour’s annual conference on Sunday, when he will declare his party is a government-in-waiting. Mr Sarwar and Ian Murray, the only Scottish Labour MP, will give speeches on Friday and Saturday.
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