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On Her Long-Standing Service

Nicola Ferguson Sturgeon (b. July 19, 1970) recently stepped down as the First Minister of Scotland, and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP). She made an announcement in this regard during a press conference in Edinburgh in the third week of February 2023. Sturgeon’s announcement came as a surprise, as many believe that she quit as a minister after not being able to hold another referendum on Independence of Scotland.

Speaking at the media conference, Sturgeon stressed: “Since the very first moment in the job, I have believed that part of serving well would be to know, almost instinctively, when the time is right to make way for someone else. And when that time came, to have the courage to do so, even if many across the country, and in my party, might feel it too soon.” And to this, she added: “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.

When asked whether her failure in facing the mounting pressure over her tactics for Independence and also for ensuring Transgender Rights, the 52-year-old seasoned politician replied that her decision to step down was “not a reaction to short-term pressures” and “comes from a deeper and longer-term assessment“. She told the press: “I know it may seem sudden, but I have been wrestling with it, albeit with oscillating levels of intensity, for some weeks.” Sturgeon further said: “I am a human being, as well as a politician. Giving absolutely everything of yourself to this job is the only way to do it. The country deserves nothing less. But in truth that can only be done by anyone for so long.

Meanwhile, Sturgeon assured her countrymen that she would remain First Minister until the SNP elects a new leader, and would also continue as a member of the Scottish Parliament until at least the next election, scheduled to be held in 2026.

Sturgeon, the longest-serving First Minister and the first woman to hold that position, has been serving as the Chief Executive of Scotland for the past eight years. She came to power in November 2014 following a referendum on Scottish Independence in September that year. Later, she announced that her main aim would be to make Scotland an Independent nation. It was under her leadership that the SNP gained a foothold in National Politics.

Sturgeon made an attempt to hold a Referendum yet again in 2022. As per the British Constitution, Scotland needs permission from the British Parliament to hold a referendum on Independence. As Sturgeon wanted to hold the referendum, bypassing Westminster; she moved the Supreme Court. However, the Court rejected her application. During the recent press conference, Sturgeon expressed hope that her successor would carry on “this struggle for Freedom”, saying: “We are at a critical moment. The blocking of a referendum as the accepted, constitutional route to Independence is a democratic outrage. But it puts the onus on us to decide how Scottish Democracy will be protected and to ensure that the will of the Scottish people prevails.

Political analysts are of the opinion that Sturgeon’s resignation is a bombshell that would send shockwaves through Scottish Politics. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak paid a rich tribute to the outgoing First Minister of Scotland, and praised her “long-standing service“. Sunak also wished her “all the best for her next steps“. Theresa May, who worked with Sturgeon when she served as the Prime Minister of Britain, stated that they had a “professional relationship“, despite their differences in political opinion, and thanked her for her “long, tireless service to our country“.

Reports suggest that the SNP may nominate John Swinney or Kate Forbes or Angus Robertson as the successor of Sturgeon soon.

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