London: Nicola Sturgeon, one of the most influential figures in British politics for the past decade, has announced her resignation as Scotland’s first minister after eight years in the role.
Sturgeon said that she had believed since first taking the job that “part of serving well” was to know when the time is right to stand down.
Sturgeon, 52, became the leader of the ruling SNP in the wake of its 2014 independence referendum when the country voted 55 per cent to 45 per cent to remain as part of the United Kingdom.
“In my head and in my heart I know that time is now, that it is right for me, for my party and for the country. And so today I am announcing my intention to step down as first minister and leader of my party,” she said in an unscheduled press conference at Bute House in Edinburgh.
“I have been first minister for over eight years and I was deputy first minister for the best part of eight years before that. These jobs are a privilege, but they are also rightly hard and especially in the case of first minister, relentlessly so.
“To be clear, I am not expecting violins here. But I am a human being as well as a politician.”
Sturgeon said she had told the SNP to begin the process of electing a new party leader and she will “will remain in office until my successor is elected”.
The independence debated suffered a major blow in November when the United Kingdom’s top court ruled that the Scottish government could not hold a second referendum without approval from the British parliament.