Northern Ireland news

Congratulations offered as Humza Yousaf elected SNP leader

Humza Yousaf has been elected SNP leader and will become Scotland's first minister on Thursday.
Paul Ainsworth

NATIONALIST party leaders in Northern Ireland have welcomed the appointment of Humza Yousaf as the new leader of the Scottish National Party.

Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill said his appointment comes at "a time of historic change and huge opportunity", while SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said strong ties with Scotland will be "crucial" in building a new Ireland.

Mr Yousaf was confirmed as the winner in the SNP leadership ballot on Monday and the 37-year-old will be sworn in as Scotland's sixth first minister on Thursday.

The Glasgow-born Scottish cabinet secretary for health will be the first person of a Muslim background to lead a major UK political party, and will become the first ethnic minority head of a devolved administration.

His election as leader followed the resignation of outgoing first minister Nicola Sturgeon, who announced she was stepping down as SNP leader earlier last month.

Mr Yousaf won the leadership ballot's second round of voting with a 52.1 per cent result, beating rivals Ash Regan and Kate Forbes.

Following his win, Mr Yousaf said he would be part of "the generation to win independence for Scotland", adding that becoming first minister was the "greatest honour and privilege of my life".

Ms Sturgeon said following his victory: "He will be an outstanding leader and first minister and I could not be prouder to have him succeed me".

Ms O'Neill, Sinn Féin vice-president, welcomed Mr Yousef's win, saying in a tweet that it came at "a time of historic change and huge opportunity".

"I look forward to working together in common cause and to stand up for the interests of all those whom we both represent," Ms O'Neill added.

Mr Eastwood said he wished to offer "warm congratulations" to the new SNP leader.

"In the face of a dysfunctional, ambitionless, cruel Tory government, it is more important than ever that we all build a strong coalition of resistance at every level of government across these islands," he said.

"The new Ireland that the SDLP is seeking to build will be based on strong social democratic values and will have an internationalist approach. The strong ties between our nations as friends and neighbours will be crucial to our future success."

Northern Ireland news