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Sturgeon resignation leaves SNP on the brink, says Black

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Nicola Sturgeon announces she is to step down as SNP leader

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Nicola Sturgeon’s shock decision to resign as First Minister has left the SNP in a precarious position – and any shift to the right could prove politically disastrous, a senior party figure has warned. Deputy Westminster leader Mhairi Black was commenting at the end of a week which has seen Scottish politics engulfed by turmoil, with Ms Sturgeon standing down from the job she has had for eight years, triggering a leadership contest in the process.

But no SNP figures have formally announced their candidacy – but Finance Minister Kate Forbes, who has been criticised for her views on same-sex marriage and abortion, has been touted for the top job, as has Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution. Angus Robertson.

Ash Regan, who broke the whip to vote against the Gender Recognition Act, has also been touted as a possible successor.

Ms Black, writing in the National newspaper, and who is the SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, said: “Any turn to the right, fiscally or socially, would risk alienating a huge slice of our membership and our electoral credibility.

“Even practically speaking, any attempt to move the party to the right would destroy the main motivation for many activists out chapping doors and convincing others that Scotland can take a different path to that which the rest of the UK is following.

“Take that reason away and you’ll very quickly find no-one under the age of 35 willing to deliver any of your leaflets.”

On Friday, The Scotsman claimed Kate Forbes, who is currently on maternity leave, was seen as an early frontrunner in a Savanta poll commissioned by the newspaper.

Roughly 18 percent of SNP voters at last year’s Holyrood election in 2021 chose Ms Forbes to succeed Ms Sturgeon as party leader and First Minister.

The Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP is also most popular among members of the public with 14 percent backing her, according to the poll.

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Former SNP leader at Westminster Mr Robertson, is the next most popular, with 14 percent of SNP voters and nine percent of the Scottish public backed the Edinburgh Central MSP.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney has ruled out a run, but received 11 percent of SNP voters’ backing and 9 percent of the public’s.

Just seven percent of SNP voters backed Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, who has come under fire for “seriously considering” a leadership bid despite opponents calling for his resignation over his handling of the NHS.

All contenders will have work to do to boost their profiles, however, with 34 percent of SNP voters stating they do not know who they would favour and almost half of the public also stating they did not know.

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Speaking yesterday, Ms Sturgeon said she hoped to spend more time at book festivals.

The politician chaired a discussion with author Chitra Ramaswamy at the Paisley Book Festival, her first public appearance since her bombshell announcement.

She explained: “I love attending book festivals, I have had the privilege of speaking to a number of authors at book festivals over the years and I should say I am looking forward to attending more book festivals in the future.”

During her time as First Minister, as well as her high profile role in UK politics, Ms Sturgeon has chaired discussions at a number of book festivals and her love of reading saw book recommendations becoming a regular feature on her Twitter feed.

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