Humza Yousaf is to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader and become Scotland's sixth First Minister, it was confirmed yesterday afternoon. Mr Yousaf defeated rivals Kate Forbes and Ash Regan in a leadership contest that exposed deep divisions within the party.

The 37-year-old is to be confirmed as the first ethnic-minority leader of a devolved government later today.

Mr Yousaf is currently Scotland's Health Secretary and was widely assumed to be Ms Sturgeon's preferred successor, although she did not explicitly back any of the candidates in the contest.

Vote system

The election was decided by the single transferable vote system, with 50,490 of the SNP's 72,169 members casting a ballot - the vast majority of them online.

Mr Yousaf failed to gain a majority in the first round of voting but won 52.1% of the votes after second preference votes from Ms Regan, who was eliminated after finishing third, were redistributed.

Ms Forbes came second with 47.9% of the votes when second preferences were included, with Mr Yousaf receiving 26,032 votes and Ms Forbes 23,890.

The BBC says he had been the clear favourite with the bookmakers during the contest, although polling expert Prof Sir John Curtice said ahead of the result that Ms Forbes appeared to be more popular with Scottish voters as a whole.

North-east industry leader Russell Borthwick has now called for a reset in the strained relationship between business and government.

The Chief Executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce wrote to all three candidates in the election and was encouraged by Mr Yousaf’s response.

You can read the letter and Humza Yousaf’s reply here.

The Chamber boss congratulated Mr Yousaf on his success saying that it’s important the warm words about the North-east are followed up with firm and swift actions.

Renewed focus

He went on: "We hope, with his appointment as First Minister, that we will see a reset in the strained relationship between business and government with a renewed focus upon economic growth, job creation, driving productivity and ensuring that we harness the skills and innovation of our business community to ensure that Scotland flourishes.

"Now the rough and tumble of the leadership election has passed, and the serious business of governing Scotland begins, we hope to welcome Mr Yousaf back to the North-east very soon - and very often - to listen to and deliver upon the priorities of our business community.

"We were encouraged during the campaign by his ambition to turn the North-east from a region of enormous renewable potential to a genuine renewable superpower.

"That must, however, be part of a genuine plan for a transition that doesn't leave oil and gas workers high and dry in the short term, before the jobs in low carbon industries are rolled out.

"Government has a role here in policymaking and investment, but also in terms of knowing when to step aside and let business get on with the job."

Mr Yousaf told Mr Borthwick in his letter that he was conscious of the need to maintain energy security throughout the process of transition and balancing the journey to net zero with interim oil and gas needs.

Carbon footprint

The politician added: "We do not want to be importing oil and gas from elsewhere with a greater carbon footprint.

"A just transition is not just about people working in the oil and gas sector either. I also recognise the knock-on effect on local businesses and communities if jobs are lost, which is why my government will prioritise building the clean energy industry.

"I want us to create more jobs and wealth, which stays in Scotland.

"As First Minister, I will also keep pressure on the UK Government to support the Acorn carbon capture project, which is a huge investment and essential for decarbonising our energy.

But Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said yesterday he had "serious concerns" about Mr Yousaf's ability, adding: "We hope he does not lurch from failure to failure as he did when he was Nicola Sturgeon's health secretary, justice secretary and transport minister".

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said the election of a First Minister from an ethnic-minority background would be a "significant moment for Scotland".

But he said Mr Yousaf was inheriting "the SNP's woeful record, but he has not inherited Nicola Sturgeon's mandate", and called for a Holyrood election to be held.

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