John Swinney expected to announce SNP leadership bid

John Swinney is expected to announce that he is launching a campaign to become SNP leader and first minister later.

Mr Swinney, Scotland’s longest-serving deputy first minister, has received support from senior members of the SNP since First Minister Humza Yousaf announced on Monday he would step down.

The Perthshire North MSP, who served as Nicola Sturgeon’s deputy for almost nine years, will make a statement in Edinburgh on Thursday.

It is not yet known whether former finance secretary Kate Forbes will also enter the leadership contest, but it is understood she won’t be at Mr Swinney’s event on Thursday due to commitments at Parliament.

Kate Forbes
It is not yet known whether Kate Forbes will enter the contest (Jane Barlow/PA)

Mr Swinney has been an MSP since the Scottish Parliament’s inception in 1999, serving North Tayside, and previously representing the same constituency at Westminster in 1997.

He previously led his party in Holyrood between 2000 and 2004 during the SNP’s time on the opposition benches.

Mr Swinney has held a raft of cabinet positions, including education and finance, and resigned at the same time as Ms Sturgeon last year.

Senior party members, including Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, Scotland’s Health Secretary Neil Gray and Scotland’s Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth, have already said they would support Mr Swinney if he decides to stand for election.

Speaking to journalists in Holyrood this week, Ms Forbes said she was still considering her position and “weighing up” her options.

The Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP narrowly lost to Mr Yousaf in the SNP leadership election last year.

Several senior party members have backed her, including those regularly at odds with the SNP leadership such as Joanna Cherry and Fergus Ewing.

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