SENIOR SNP figures have backed John Swinney to succeed Humza Yousaf as Scotland's First Minister. 

It comes following the announcement from the First Minister that he would be stepping down

Following the news, both the party's former Westminster leader Ian Blackford and the SNP's depute leader Keith Brown backed Swinney to take on the role. 

Speaking to the BBC, Blackford (below) said the former deputy first minister "has what it takes" to lead the SNP. 

The National: Ian Blackford

"He certainly is an individual that I believe carries widespread respect in the party across the Parliament, and indeed the country, a long experience," he said. 

"So I think someone that has operated right through the period of the SNP being in government, of course, as deputy leader under Nicola Sturgeon

"I think, if anyone has the qualities, the capabilities to lead us not just in the short term, but right through the electoral cycle, then John has these characteristics."

Blackford added: "In terms of where we are here, and the leadership that we need to show, showing that we can win in the Scottish Parliament, get our legislative programme through, fight the Westminster election and then go into the Scottish election in 2026, John is the man that I think has what it takes to lead us."

Elsewhere, writing on Twitter/X, Brown thanked Yousaf for his time as first minister and also said "very much hopes" that Swinney puts himself forward for the role. 

The National:

"We now need experience, engagement and unity," the SNP's depute leader said. 

Swinney (below) did address rumours he could replace Yousaf at an event in London on Monday morning. 

The National: Former deputy first minister John Swinney has been made an honorary professor

Asked whether he wants to be the next first minister at a Resolution Foundation event, Swinney said: “It’s a hypothetical question.”

He added that the job is a very “demanding role” and that “it takes a lot of thinking about”.

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Speaking to Sky News earlier this morning, Swinney also said: “There’s a lot to happen today, and we’ll wait to hear what the FM’s got to say later on today.”

The MSP for Perthshire North has served in a number of senior roles in the Scottish Government throughout his time in politics. 

He was deputy first minister from November 2014 until the end of March 2023, when he left at the same time as Nicola Sturgeon (below). 

The National: Nicola Sturgeon

He also held the education secretary role from May 2016 to May 2021 and was also the Cabinet secretary for Covid recovery from May 2021 to March 2023. 

Swinney also acted as finance secretary from July 2022 to March 2023 while Kate Forbes was on maternity leave.