Nicola Sturgeon unexpectedly quits as first minister of Scotland amid swirl of political setbacks

Wed February 15, 2023

Nicola Sturgeon, the figurehead of the faltering Scottish independence movement, dramatically announced on Wednesday that she would resign after eight years as Scotland’s first minister.

At a news conference in Edinburgh, the leader of the Scottish National Party made the declaration. She will continue to serve as SNP leader until a replacement is named.

It is “right for me, for my party, and for the country,” Sturgeon said, adding that she realizes the “time is now” for her to resign.

Sturgeon, who has been at odds with the UK government in London over Scottish independence and Westminster’s decision to block a Scottish law intended to allow trans people in Scotland to change their legal gender without a medical diagnosis, said, “First, though I know it will be tempting to see it as such, this decision is not a reaction to short-term pressures.”

“This choice is the result of a more thorough and extensive evaluation.”

She continued by saying that she was unable to give the job her all and that she felt she had to make that clear right away. “The only way to do it is to give absolutely everything of yourself to this job,” I’ve been saying as I’ve wrestled with it for a few weeks, albeit with varying degrees of intensity. She noted that it was difficult to “meet pals for a coffee or go for a walk on your own” and claimed that life at the top was “brutally brutal.” She also claimed that it was challenging to have a private life.

Given that Sturgeon had just recently promised to make the following British general election a de facto second referendum on Scottish independence, the stunning declaration sparked conjecture over her timing.

She emphasized that she was no longer able to give the job her entire attention, but her list of political troubles has expanded. The SNP’s support has decreased, weakening its hold on Scottish politics. There is very little likelihood of a referendum happening anytime soon due to the stagnation of the independence movement.

Since she attempted to bring the contentious measure on gender identification, she has lost support within her party, and some surveys indicate that the majority of Scots agreed with the UK government’s exercise of its authority to veto the plan. And at the end of the previous year, her husband was implicated in a scandal after it was revealed that he had personally lent the SNP £10,000.

In summary, Sturgeon may have opted to step down before her reputation is tainted by failure after dominating Scottish politics for eight years, consistently battering the UK government with the independence baseball bat she wielded.

What about Scottish independence?

The campaign for Scottish independence has hit a roadblock. After Brexit, it once appeared to be inevitable. The majority of Scots chose to stay in the EU, and the SNP skillfully used Brexit as a talking point.

The SNP’s issue is that, as always, any decision to organize a referendum must be approved by the UK government.

Four successive Conservative prime ministers—Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, and Rishi Sunak—did not entertain the notion. Given that Labour has to gain seats in Scotland in order to secure a majority in the UK parliament, it also appears highly improbable that Keir Starmer, the leader of the official opposition Labour Party, would provide any support to the concept.

Next month, the SNP is scheduled to hold a special summit on independence. It is now likely that it will enter that conference split and unsure of its course. All of which will make people who are against independence extremely delighted.

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