Nicola Sturgeon vows to lead SNP into the next election

Nicola Sturgeon has dismissed questions over her leadership of the SNP, telling her internal critics that she will lead the party into the 2021 Scottish Parliament election and beyond.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr show
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr show

The First Minister was forced to address speculation about her future after two SNP MPs publicly voiced doubts over whether she would remain in charge.

Read More
SNP MP says it's 'a matter for events' if Nicola Sturgeon survives as leader
The First Minister was forced to address speculation about her future after two SNP MPs publicly voiced doubts over whether she would remain in charge.

The comments brought out into the open internal frustration over her government’s record and its strategy on securing a second independence referendum for the first time.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ms Sturgeon also faces the looming challenge of a Holyrood inquiry into the Scottish Government’s handling of complaints against her predecessor, Alex Salmond, once his criminal trial concludes.

With two senior SNP figures vying for selection in the same Scottish Parliament constituency, the opposition claimed Nationalists were “fighting like ferrets in a sack to be the next leader”.

SNP parliamentarians staged a show of support for their leader on social media yesterday after she appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

Asked on the programme whether she will be in charge “for a few years yet”, Ms Sturgeon said: “Yes, I hope so”, adding that commentary on the SNP’s internal rows was “slightly overblown”.

“For me, two conditions are required for me to stay as leader and I do intend to lead my party into the next Scottish Parliament election and hopefully win that and stay as First Minister,” she said.

“Firstly you have to have the support, not just the party but of the country. And I would say humbly, I have just led my party to another landslide election victory winning 80 per cent of the seats. It’s the sixth election victory I’ve led my party to in my five years as a party leader and First Minister.

“Secondly, I have to be sure that I want to do this job, think I’m the best person to do this job, have the drive and energy, and that is emphatically the case.

“When either of these things cease to be the case then that’ll be the time for me to move on and look to do these other things that I’m keen to do in my lifetime, but that is not now, and it is not imminent.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford posted on Twitter following the interview: “Nicola is demonstrably the person to lead us on that journey.”

And the Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Michael Russell, posted that Ms Sturgeon was taking “the absolutely right and winning approach”.

The BBC reported this week that senior Nationalist sources suggest that Ms Sturgeon may be forced to “fall on her sword” as a result of the parliamentary inquiry.

Asked what he thought about SNP colleagues privately raising questions over Ms Sturgeon’s future, Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil told the BBC: “I suppose that’s maybe a matter for events and Nicola Sturgeon – who knows?

“What I’m concentrating on is not so much the personalities involved but it’s the issue of independence.”

And East Lothian MP Kenny Macaskill said there was “no vacancy”, but added: “You never say never in politics – but at the present moment there is no challenge in the SNP, nobody seeks it, we’re comfortable with Nicola’s leadership.

“We’ll see what happens but she still has a lot of fuel in the tank.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The comments provoked a public spat, with Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf accusing the MPs of “stirring the pot” and “trying to disrupt”.

Ms Sturgeon repeated her position that a second independence referendum had to be “legal and legitimate” in the face of demands from some in the SNP for the Scottish Parliament to press ahead with a vote without a Section 30 order granting powers under the Scotland Act.

The First Minister told the Andrew Marr Show she was still “working towards” another independence referendum by the end of this year.

Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw said the First Minister was “clearly rattled”.

“While Sturgeon intends to remain First Minister, her most senior lieutenants are already fighting like ferrets in a sack to be the next leader.”