JOHN Swinney has been confirmed as the next SNP leader after nominations closed at noon.

The former deputy first minister ran unopposed in the race to replace Humza Yousaf.

After he was confirmed as SNP leader, Swinney (below) wrote on social media that he was "honoured to have been elected".

The National: John Swinney seems almost certain to be Scotland’s next first minister (Andrew Milligan/PA)

He added: "I will give all that I have to serve my party and my country."

Reports of a contest began early on Sunday when activist Graeme McCormick said he had secured 100 nominations from 20 branches needed to run against Swinney.

But later on Sunday, he confirmed he had backed out of the campaign after “lengthy and fruitful” conversations with Swinney.

Swinney had warned earlier that a contest could damage the party’s chances of recovering from a “difficult” period.

It was also initially thought that former finance secretary Kate Forbes would contest the leadership, but Swinney heaped praised on his potential rival, saying she would be offered a “significant” job in his team after she confirmed she would not run against him.

Because there were no last-minute challengers, the leadership bid will not have to be put to SNP members, with Swinney clear to take over.

READ MORE: John Swinney: I know what it takes to lead minority government and boost independence

He is likely to become Scotland’s next first minister – the third in just over a year – as early as Tuesday.

The Scottish Government Cabinet will meet on Tuesday, with MSPs later given the opportunity to elect a new first minister at some point in the Holyrood schedule.

Swinney would then have to swear three oaths of office at the Court of Session in Edinburgh before officially becoming first minister.

The leadership race was triggered after Yousaf confirmed his intention to resign last week, after he abruptly ended the power-sharing agreement with the Scottish Greens, facing significant backlash in Holyrood and a vote of no confidence in his leadership.

Responding to the news, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie (below) said the next first minister must remain committed to progressive policies that tackle the climate crisis and inequality if they are to have the support of the Scottish Greens.

The National: Patrick Harvie has shared his thoughts in a lengthy interview with editor of The National Laura

Harvie said: “The Scottish Greens congratulate John Swinney on his nomination and hope that he will do what is necessary to succeed in the role. We have worked with him over a number of years and in a number of roles, both in opposition and as part of the Scottish Government.

“Scotland needs a period of stable government. Mr Swinney knows that if he is to have our support then it must be on the basis of progressive policies that help us to tackle the climate crisis and build a fairer and more equal future.

“The next Scottish government will face an important choice. Will they offer a progressive vision for Scotland’s future, or will they retreat toward the tepid middle ground, which would force them to rely on the Tories and other pro-Union parties?

READ MORE: 'Mixed feelings': Patrick Harvie speaks out after end of Bute House Agreement

“There are a lot of important policies already on their way to delivery as a result of the Bute House Agreement, including better rights for tenants and rent controls, transforming the way we heat our homes and a watertight ban on conversion therapy. 

“We remain utterly committed to these policies and will oppose any move away from them or steps to dilute them. It is also clear that the new Climate Bill must be used to bring about the pace of change that has been lacking since the SNP first started missing climate targets.

Harvie added: “Scottish Green MSPs will meet to discuss our approach to the votes taking place this week. We are committed to delivering on our vision of a fairer, greener and more equal Scotland, and are open to talks with John Swinney and his team about how we can work together to make that happen."

Meanwhile, Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross (below) congratulated Swinney and demanded he "abandoned" the SNP's push for independence.

The National: Conservative Party Conference 2022

Ross said: “I congratulate John Swinney on becoming SNP leader for a second time.

“We urge him to govern for all of Scotland by abandoning his relentless push for independence – but, judging by his leadership launch slogan, that looks a forlorn hope.

“As the main opposition party, we will hold John Swinney to account when he lets the Scottish people down – just as we’ve done with Humza Yousaf.

READ MORE: Support for independence remains strong as poll sees Labour take lead over SNP

“It’s difficult to see how he can be the fresh start Scotland needs, when he’s the ultimate continuity candidate. John Swinney was joined at the hip with the disgraced Nicola Sturgeon and his fingerprints are all over her numerous policy failures and cover-ups.

“The stitch-up the SNP have engineered to ensure John Swinney’s coronation highlights the mess they’re in. Is a failed former leader from two decades ago – who, as education secretary, sent Scotland plummeting down international league tables – really the best they have to offer?

“With John Swinney at the helm, the SNP will double down on their independence obsession – the one issue they agree on – and ignore the real priorities of the Scottish people, such as fixing our ailing public services and growing the economy.

“Voters know that in key seats across Scotland, only the Scottish Conservatives can beat the SNP and get the focus back on to the issues that really matter.”

Elsewhere, Yousaf has congratulated Swinney as his successor as SNP leader.

He posted on Twitter/X: “Congratulations to @JohnSwinney on becoming leader of @theSNP and FM-elect.

“John’s central message has been one of unity. As a party, we must heed his call, whatever has happened in the past should remain there.

“Let’s get behind John & his team so they can deliver for Scotland.”