Yousaf accepts he has made mistakes in what could be final FMQs

He announced on Monday he is stepping down as First Minister.

Humza Yousaf said he is proud to have served as First Minister
Humza Yousaf said he is proud to have served as First Minister (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Humza Yousaf admitted he had made mistakes during his time on the Scottish Government frontbenches as he faced what may have been his final appearance at First Minister’s Questions.

He announced earlier this week he will step down as First Minister following a period of political turmoil sparked by his decision to end the Bute House Agreement with the Scottish Greens.

Mr Yousaf later said he did not fully understand how the abrupt decision would anger the Greens, who later said they would back a Conservative-led motion of no confidence in his leadership and effectively forced him from office.

Confronted by Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross – who said his party had forced Mr Yousaf to resign “in disgrace” by tabling the motion – the First Minister said: “Of course (Mr Ross) has every right and prerogative to gloat about the position that I am in.

“The only exception I would take to Douglas Ross is no, I don’t feel disgraced at all.”

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross claimed Humza Yousaf had resigned ‘in disgrace’
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross claimed Humza Yousaf had resigned ‘in disgrace’ (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The First Minister went on to say he is “very proud” to have been the first person of colour to lead Scotland, the first Muslim to lead a Western nation and the youngest person to hold the position.

He added: “Most of all, I’m proud to have served my Government, this Government, my country for 12 years on the frontbenches.

“Did I get everything right? Absolutely not, and that’s very evident and very clear.

“But can I be proud of this Government’s record? Absolutely.”

He highlighted that the SNP has abolished tuition fees, made personal care free and scrapped prescription fees.

Thursday’s session of FMQs could have been his last if just one person steps forward to succeed him, avoiding a leadership contest.

Former deputy first minister John Swinney has put his name forward for the leadership and nominations close at noon on Monday.

Mr Ross also took aim at Mr Swinney, just hours after he launched his campaign for the top job.

“The SNP’s man for the future is their failed leader from the past,” he said, referencing Mr Swinney’s four-year tenure at the head of the party in the early 2000s.

Mr Swinney’s election as leader would be moving from “one continuity candidate to another”, Mr Ross said, as he accused the former deputy first minister of being a “human shield” for his former boss Nicola Sturgeon.

“For 16 out of the 17 years of SNP Government, John Swinney sat round the Cabinet table,” he added.

“His fingerprints are all over their most toxic policies – how will going back to the future get the SNP out of the mess that they’re in?”

Responding, the First Minister said both John Swinney and Kate Forbes – another prospective candidate for the leadership – are more popular than Mr Ross in opinion polling.

He added that you can “judge a man by the company he keeps”, saying: “Douglas Ross’s company is Boris Johnson, the Conservative Party of Liz Truss, Suella Braverman, Priti Patel, formerly Lee Anderson, Mark Menzies, Peter Bone, Chris Pincher, Andrew Bridgen, Frank Hester.

“That is the company he keeps, I am very proud of John Swinney, Kate Forbes and all of the company that I keep.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said that with Scotland facing the “greatest challenges” since the creation of the Holyrood Parliament 25 years ago, its people “cannot afford this distracted, divided and incompetent SNP Government”.

Anas Sarwar said the SNP does not offer the change Scotland needs
Anas Sarwar said the SNP does not offer the change Scotland needs (Jane Barlow/PA)

He told MSPs: “Regardless of who the SNP impose, they won’t be able to fix this mess and deliver the change Scotland needs.”

He said while the country is “crying out for change”, the SNP only offers “more of the same”.

Mr Sarwar continued: “We need a government that is focused on fixing the mess the SNP have made.”

Speaking about the SNP, he added: “They are so divided, so chaotic and so dysfunctional that they cannot now provide the stable, competent government our country needs.

“That is why we need an election.”

But Mr Yousaf then reminded Mr Sarwar that Holyrood had rejected a motion of no confidence in the Government Labour had brought in a vote on Wednesday.

Hitting out at the Labour leader, Mr Yousaf said: “Anas Sarwar asks us to concentrate on the day job – can I remind him it was Anas Sarwar and his party that yesterday brought forward a motion of no confidence that they knew they were going to lose.”

He said that “waste of time” meant Holyrood had less time to debate the issue of compensation for women affected by state pension rule changes.

“It is a disgrace that the Labour Party led by Anas Sarwar abstained on a motion that demanded full compensation to women who have suffered such a disgraceful injustice,” Mr Yousaf said.