Sturgeon quits LIVE: SNP stalwart bemoans ‘brutality’ of leading party

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Nicola Sturgeon gave a press conference from Bute House this morning, in which she announced her resignation as First Minister after more than 8 years in the role. She bemoaned the “brutality” of life as a politician, saying: “It takes its toll on you and those around you”. Ahead of her speech, a source close to the SNP leader told the BBC she had “had enough”. 

‘Firmly on course to win the next election’

The First Minister told the press briefing the SNP is “firmly on course to win the next election, while our opponents remain adrift”.

She added: “The longer any leader is in office, the more opinions about them become fixed and very hard to change, and that matters.

“Individual polls come and go, but I am firmly of the view that there is now majority support for independence in Scotland.

“But that support needs to be solidified and it needs to grow further if our independent Scotland is to have the best possible foundation.

“To achieve that, we must reach across the divide in Scottish politics and my judgment now is that a new leader would be better able to do this.

“Someone whom the mind of almost everyone in the country is not already made up, for better or worse. Someone who is not subject to quite the same polarised opinions, fair or unfair, as I now am.”

Sturgeon appeared to give up on her independence dream

The First Minister said she wants her party to choose its plan for pursuing Scottish independence without the influence of a leader who might not be around to carry it out. 

She said: “I free the SNP to choose the path that believes to be the right one.”

Speaking about the future of the independence movement, she added: “By making my decision clear now I free the SNP to make the right decision”.

“We’re at a critical moment”, she warned, saying “the cause of independence is bigger than any one individual.”

‘I am a human being as well as a politician’

Being First Minister is the “toughest thing I have ever done”. 

She added: “These jobs are a privilege but they are also rightly hard”

“I’m not expecting violins here but I am a human being as well as a politician”

FM denies the decision is a result of ‘recent pressures’

In a nod to the recent row over trans rights, Ms Sturgeon said the “decision is not a reaction to short-term pressures”.

She added: “I know it might seem sudden but I have been wrestling with it with oscillating levels of intensity for a few weeks”.

Sturgeon’s decision to step down is her ‘duty’

The FM said the “time is right” for her to step down, something she said she knows “instinctively”. 

Ms Sturgeon has said she will remain in office until a successor has been elected. 

She said the decision to step down is her “duty”. 

Sturgeon says being First Minister was ‘the very best job in the world’

Ms Sturgeon said “being First Minister of Scotland is the very best job in the world”

She said it was “a privilege beyond measure” to be the first female in the role. 

SNP MP Alison Thewliss paid tribute to Ms Sturgeon on Twitter

Reacting to the news, Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central and the party’s home affairs spokesperson, said she was “absolutely gutted”.

Writing on Twitter, she paid tribute to Ms Sturgeon, who she described as an “incredible leader”. 

The press conference is set to begin at 11am

The First Minister will speak at a hastily-arranged press conference from her residence at Bute House in Edinburgh.

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