Can I begin by thanking our National Secretary Lorna Finn and can I thank our headquarters staff for all the effort they have put in right throughout this process.

It is hard for me to find the words to describe just how honoured I am to be entrusted by our membership of the SNP to be the party’s next leader and to be on the cusp of being our country’s next first minister.

Can I begin by paying tribute to my colleagues, both Kate and Ash. During almost 20 hustings, it’s probably felt we’ve seen each other more than our respective families. You both  have put in an incredible shift and I know that collectively we will continue to work hard as part of team SNP.

I am not just humbled, I also feel like the luckiest man in the world to be standing here as the leader of the SNP, a party I joined almost 20 years ago and that I love so dearly. Friends it was the late John Smith, and he got it absolutely right, when he said the opportunity to serve our country is all we ask. To serve my country as first minister will be the greatest privilege and honour of my life, should Parliament decide to elect me as Scotland’s next first minister tomorrow.

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And just as I will lead the SNP in the interests of all party members, not just those who voted for me, so I will aim to lead Scotland in the interests of all of our citizens, whatever your political allegiance. If elected as your first minister after tomorrow’s vote in Parliament, know that I will be a first minister for all of Scotland. That I will work every minute of every day to earn and re-earn your respect and trust.

I will do that by treating you, the people of Scotland, with respect. There will be no empty promises or easy soundbites when the issues in front of us are difficult and complex because government is not easy and I won’t pretend that it is.

My immediate priority will be to continue to protect every Scot as far as we possibly can from the harm inflicted by the cost of living crisis, to recover and reform our NHS, and other vital public services, to support our wellbeing economy, to improve the life chances of people right across this country.

I will move quickly to develop plans to extend childcare, to improve rural housing, to support small businesses and boost innovation.

I will bring forward reforms of the criminal justice system, I’ll work with local government to empower our local authorities, and as first minister I will not shy away from those exceptionally tough challenges that require the difficult decisions.

But with this challenge, I will also use it to find opportunity. My government will seize the social and economic opportunity that the journey to net zero will bring. Our country is energy rich and Scotland should not have people living in fuel poverty. The government I lead will renew and redouble our efforts to lift people out of poverty, to make work fair, to make our economy work for the people, and to ensure as we become a more prosperous country, we also become a fairer country too.

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While I have had my fair share of battles with the UK Government over the years, I will work with them and other devolved nations constructively where I can in the best interests of our nation.

I’m a proud Scot and equally a proud European too, and Scotland is a European nation. We will want to return to the European Union and play our part in building a continent that is based on human rights, peace, prosperity and social justice.

To the people of Scotland, the SNP has earned your trust by governing well, by ensuring your priorities are our priorities. As a party and as a government, we are at our best when we are radical and bold and the challenges we face today, they require nothing less of us.

That is what I promise the people of Scotland, if Parliament of course puts its trust in me tomorrow.

Joining the SNP for me was an act of hope, but it was also a statement of intent. I was determined then, as I am now, that we will deliver independence for Scotland together, as a team. Leadership elections by their very nature can be bruising. However, in the SNP we are a family. Over the last five weeks we may have been competitive or supporters of different candidates. We are no longer Team Humza, or Team Kate or Team Ash, we are one team and we will be the generation that delivers independence for Scotland.

Where there are divisions to heal, we must do so quickly because we have a job to do. As a party we are at our strongest when we are united and what unites us is our shared goal of delivering independence for our nation.

To those in Scotland who don’t yet share that passion that I do for independence, I will aim to earn your trust by continuing to ensure we govern well and earn your respect as first minister by focusing on the priorities that matter to all of us and in doing so, using our devolved powers to the absolute maximum effect, to tackle the challenges of the day.

And for those of us in this room and watching who do believe in independence, we will only win by making that case on the doorsteps and my solemn promise and commitment to you is that I will kickstart our grassroots, our civic-led movement and ensure our drive for independence is in fifth gear.

The people of Scotland need independence now more than ever before and we will be the generation that delivers independence for Scotland.

Before concluding, I would like to take the opportunity to thank some very special people and I wouldn’t be standing here today if it wasn’t for the support and encouragement of a number of hard-working people.

First of all, there is my amazing wife Nadia, she is not just my rock, she is my compass who helps to guide me through the most difficult times in life. There is no way, not a chance in hell, that I would be standing here if it was not for your love, for your support and for your advice. Thank you for believing in me and for always being there for me. I will love you, and I do love you, more than the words I can find to express. To my girls, this jobs will at times be all-consuming I expect, but know that there is no more important job in my life than being your dad. You will always come first.

To my mum, to my dad, to my sisters, thank you for your unwavering support throughout my life, for picking me up when I have been down and for telling me to keep going when at times I had my doubts.

I’d also like to thank my phenomenal campaign team, you have worked day and night over the past few weeks to support me. You’ve all sacrificed time with your family and friends because like me you believe in our vision of a progressive, socially just Scotland and I won’t let you down.

A special mention to Neil Gray, he is quite simply the best corner man I could’ve asked for. During the rollercoaster of emotion, you have been by my side and there is no way I would’ve made it to the finish line without your support. And to my good friend and colleague Shona Robison, your support and wise counsel has been indispensable to me during this contest.

To our now former leader Nicola Sturgeon and her deputy John Swinney, thank you for your dedicated service to this party, to our country and to all the people of Scotland. You have given em strong foundations to build upon.

And thank you to my colleagues in both parliaments, across local government and activists around the country who have been so supportive and so encouraging. I will ensure I will harness all of the talent across the party and across the country as I build that team that will take Scotland forward to deliver our nation’s independence. From our brilliant MPs led ably by Stephen Flynn and by Mhairi Black in Westminster to our leaders in local government as well as our exceptional group of MSPs, our parliament has an array of talent right through its ranks.

Parliamentarians, our councillors, our activists, our members, all have a part to play on our journey to independence as do our friends right across the independence movement.

To have your confidence as I take on the role of SNP leader means so much to me.

My final thanks is to my grandparents. Unfortunately they are no longer alive to see this day, but I’m forever thankful that my grandparents made the trip from Punjab to Scotland over 60 years ago. As immigrants to this country who knew barely a word of English, they could not have imagined in their wildest dreams that their grandson would one day be on the cusp of being the next first minister of Scotland.

We should all take pride in the fact today we have sent a clear message that your colour of skin or indeed your faith is not a barrier to leading the country that we all call home. From the Punjab to our parliament, this is a journey over generations, that reminds us we should be celebrating the migrants who contribute so much to our country.

This is what drives my commitment to equality that will underpin my actions as first minister. Thank you for the honour of choosing me to be your nominee to become Scotland’s sixth first minister. I will dedicate every waking moment to serving you, the people of Scotland. Thank you very much.