HUMZA Yousaf has been selected by the Scottish Parliament to become Scotland's next first minister.

The SNP leader will be sworn in at the Court of Session on Wednesday after seeing off challenges from Douglas Ross, Alex Cole-Hamilton, and Anas Sarwar.

In his speech in the Holyrood chamber he said Nicola Sturgeon left "very big shoes to fill" but he would never "shy away from tackling the big issues our country faces".

He added that he firmly believed "Scotland’s best days lie in front of us".

Yousaf – who received the backing of 71 MSPs – referred to the fact he and Scottish Labour leader Sarwar are of Pakistani Muslim heritage.

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He said: “It’s also quite a signal of the progress that we have made as a country, as well as a parliament, that two of the candidates putting themselves forward are from minority ethnic communities.

“That the majority of MSPs in this Parliament belong to parties led by two people of colour, two people of the Muslim faith.

“The fact that no-one bats an eyelid at this tells me we are making progress in our nation for which we should all be very, very proud.”

He said his Government would “listen carefully and pay respect” to the views of all MSPs while standing up to any attempts to “undermine devolution”.

Yousaf added he would "stand up unequivocally" for this Scottish Parliament in a nod to his plan to challenge the UK Government's block on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

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In a speech after votes had been counted, Yousaf quoted ex-first minister Donald Dewar. 

He said: “Donald Dewar emphasised, and I quote, ‘the common aims that we shared across this chamber of giving people a better life and a better future’.”

He went on to pay tribute to his parents, saying “I could not be making history without them”, adding that his wife and daughters “are my everything”.

Yousaf went on to say racial abuse against him had been so bad at points he “felt I simply did not belong here”.

“I’ve lost count of how many times my identity, my loyalty to Scotland – the only country I have ever and will ever call home – has been questioned over the years," said Yousaf.

“There was a time not that long ago when I felt I simply did not belong here.”

He said he would champion people who have felt the same in his time in office, saying he hoped his election “sends a strong message to every single person out there who feels that they don’t belong”.

“No matter what anyone says, no matter who you are, whether Scotland has been your home for a day or for 10 generations, no matter your ethnicity, no matter your gender, no matter your religion, no matter your sexual orientation, your transgender identity or disability, this is your home and don’t let anyone ever tell you that you do not belong," he added.

Later in the day, Yousaf confirmed he had spoken to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. He said he had "made clear that I expect the democratic wishes of Scotland's people and Parliament to be respected".

However, reports say Sunak also made "clear" that he thinks the focus should be on issues such as the NHS and not an independence referendum.

Sunak said after the call that he was "looking forward to working with [Yousaf] to deliver on the priorities that matter most to people across Scotland – from cutting NHS waiting lists to growing our economy".

Speaking at Holyrood, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, who was backed by all the MSPs in his party for the FM role, said Scotland needed an "alternative" and criticised Yousaf saying he would request a Section 30 order from Westminster straight away.

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Ross said: "He [Yousaf] has said that every election should be about independence.

"Yesterday, in his very first act, he demanded another independence referendum from the UK Government."

When the SNP MSPs applauded this, Ross added: "An image if you needed it that the nationalists have the wrong prioritiy for this country."

Sarwar said Scotland was facing an NHS and cost-of-living crisis that needed a first minister "with a plan", as he pledged to earn the trust of the public at the next Holyrood election.

He added: "This is not as good as it gets. Change is possible."

Sarwar pledged to continue to work alongside Yousaf in their fight against racism.

He welcomed Yousaf to his position as Scotland's first leader from an ethnic minority background, saying: “It is something our grandparents would never, ever have imagined when they arrived in this country and made Scotland their home.”

He added: “I know that he has faced personal abuse and racism, as have so many others who don’t have the platform that he and I are fortunate to have.

“I am proud of the work we have done alongside others to stand against hatred and bigotry, and my promise is that I will continue to stand alongside you in that fight for all of us.”