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'Had had enough': Nicola Sturgeon to quit as Scotland's First Minister

Nicola Sturgeon to quit as Scotland’s first minister. AFP.

Edinburg: Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will resign after more than eight years leading the devolved government in Edinburgh, UK media said on Wednesday, in a shock move jolting British politics.

The Scottish National Party leader is expected to announce her departure at a news conference at 11:00 am (1100 GMT), after she faced pressure over a stalled push towards independence and over transgender rights.

It was unclear when exactly she planned to step down as Scottish leader and head of the SNP, the largest party in the devolved parliament.

Sources told British media she “had had enough” after approaching a decade in power pushing for Scottish independence and opposing Brexit.

Sturgeon, who became Scotland’s first female leader when she took power in 2014, had overseen unprecedented electoral success for the SNP as she pushed for another referendum on independence.

She took over in the aftermath of the last poll, which saw Scots reject breaking away from the rest of the UK by more than 10 percentage points, and has been doggedly pushing for another vote.

However, the UK government, which must approve the holding of another referendum, has insisted that the September 2014 vote was a once-in-a-generation event and refused to allow another.

In 2021, the SNP won a fourth consecutive term in power in Edinburgh on a platform of holding a fresh poll, recording the largest share of the popular vote.

But it fell one short of an outright majority, and allied with the Greens to stay in power.

Scotland’s parliament and its ruling executive were formed in 1999 under devolution reforms created by the then Labour government in London.

But since 2021, the push for independence has stalled, with a flurry of recent opinion polls showing declining support in Scotland for breaking away.

Some critics, even within the ruling SNP, have blamed Sturgeon for failing to deliver a winning strategy on the issue after the Supreme Court in November sided with the UK government in blocking a fresh vote.

Meanwhile, she has faced a backlash over her support for transgender rights, after becoming embroiled in a row over whether transgender women can be housed in all-female prisons.

Despite that, as recently as last month she was insisting she would remain in the role, telling the BBC she was “nowhere near” ready to quit after Jacinda Ardern’s shock departure as New Zealand prime minister.

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