Scottish leader Humza Yousaf has resigned after a year in power, throwing his UKIP into disarray

Scottish leader Humza Yousaf has resigned after a year in power, throwing his UKIP into disarray

(CNN) — Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf has resigned just a year after his coalition government collapsed, a humiliating and chaotic departure that plunges Scotland's ruling UKIP into chaos.

Youssouf's coalition government unexpectedly collapsed last week when he broke his coalition agreement with Green Party lawmakers, a risky move that backfired spectacularly when the Greens said they would vote against him in a confidence motion.

The ruling Scottish National Party announced at a press conference on Monday that it will now have a candidate to lead the party to replace Youssef.

Youssef took over as leader of the Scottish National Party last March, hoping to extend the party's dominance of politics north of the border into a third decade and strengthen the case for a new referendum on Scottish independence.
But the party's mounting legal problems and troubled coalition deal have put its leadership in a fragile position, and an inadvertent mistake in expelling two Green lawmakers from its cabinet sent Youssef into a five-day battle for his position.

“Unfortunately, by terminating the Boathouse agreement in the way that I did, I clearly underestimated the level of pain and upset they caused the Green colleagues,” he admitted in his press conference.

“For a minority government to rule effectively, it is clear that trust when working with the opposition is essential,” he added.

The left-leaning Scottish National Party has led Scotland's government since 2007, and forced an independence vote in 2014, with Scottish voters choosing to remain part of the United Kingdom.

Youssef has called for another vote in the coming years, insisting that Brexit – which Scots voted against – has changed the calculations.

But his calls were rejected at Westminster and undermined by a lengthy police investigation into the SNP's financial irregularities, which eroded his popular support.

The SNP is now looking to elect a replacement to lead Youssef's government, but is two seats short of a majority in Holyrood, the seat of power in Scotland, meaning any potential leader will have to win the support of opposition lawmakers to be able to govern effectively.

Youssef said he will remain in his position until his successor is chosen. ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images

If the opposition unites to block a new appointment, Scotland could eventually face the prospect of going to the polls in an early election. Opinion polls suggest the SNP will face a two-way battle with a resurgent, pro-union Labor Party for control of Parliament, having lost some of its support since the last election in 2021.

But the SNP hopes to avoid that possibility by finding a leader who can win enough support from opposition parties. Youssef said on Monday that he would remain in office until a new leader is elected.

However, the SNP's descent into disarray has tarnished Scotland's remarkable 17-year period of supremacy, diminishing the bloc's prospects of achieving its holy grail: abandoning the union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland and remaining on its own as an independent nation.

A historic but short term
In an emotional speech on Monday, Youssef said it was an “honor” for him to lead the SNP into government. But his time in power was difficult and his short term further damaged his party's standing after a tough year for the group.

Youssef replaced former Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon last year, becoming the first non-white head of the Scottish government. Upon his victory, he highlighted his origins – born in Glasgow, to a father from Pakistan and a mother from Kenya – and his views as examples of the progressive, multiracial Scotland promoted by the Scottish National Party.
But he has never enjoyed the levels of popularity among voters that Sturgeon once did, and has often been caught between the liberal leanings of his Green Party allies and parts of his own party, on the one hand, and the more socially conservative members of the Scottish National Party, on the other. last.

A particularly controversial expansion of hate crimes legislation in Scotland, which extended protections for transgender people, has been praised by LGBTQ+ groups, but has been attacked by critics as a measure that would stifle freedom of expression.

Ultimately, Youssef's decision to abandon key 2030 climate targets angered the Green Party, leading him to tear up the so-called Bout agreement between the two parties and try to govern as a minority government instead. In response, the Green Party withdrew its support entirely, meaning that a slim majority in the Scottish Parliament was against it.

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