Politics latest: SNP leadership hopeful issues warning to opposition parties (2024)

Key points
  • Swinney confirms bid to become SNP leader|Forbes also expected to make statement
  • Connor Gillies: Swinney expected to be 'unity candidate'
  • Polls open across England and WalesIHow to watch Sky News coverage
  • Elections taking place across 107 local authorities in England
  • Mayoral contests are also taking place, including for London mayoralty
  • Twenty-five London Assembly seats are up for grabs
  • A by-election is taking place in Blackpool South
  • Voters across England and Wales will elect 37 police and crime commissioners (PCCs)
  • Live reporting byCharlotte Chelsom-Pill


More than 700 migrants cross Channel on busiest day of year so far

More than 700 migrants were detected crossing the Channel on Wednesday - a new daily record for the year so far.

According to the Home Office, 711 people made the journey in 14 boats.

That would work out to an average of 51 people per boat.

The provisional total for the number of Channel crossings this year so far now stands at 8,278.

Crossings have surpassed the record for the first four months of a calendar year.


Voters cast ballots from back of car after polling station opening backfires

Some voters in Cambridge have reportedly had to cast their votes from the back of a car this morning after the opening of a polling station backfired.

Cambridge Electoral Services said voters at Milton Road Library were given the "rare" experience after problems getting into the building.

The problem now appears to have been resolved, with polling stations at the library "up and running".

Writing on X, Cambridge Electoral Services thanked polling teams "who remained calm and carried on".


Swinney defiant on Scottish independence

John Swinney is asked whether he thinks as SNP leader he will deliver independence for Scotland.

"Yes," he replies.

Earlier, he used his speech to say he has believed all his adult life "that Scotland's future is best served as an independent country".

He said he recognises "most people need to be convinced of that point before independence can be achieved", adding he wants to focus on reaching out to people with "respect and courtesy to address the obstacles in the way of winning the case for independence".

But he said he accepts his party "is not as cohesive as it needs to be".

"I will give all that I have in me to ensure the success of our course," he said.


Opposition parties 'better watch out', Swinney says, as he vows to unify SNP

John Swinney is now taking questions.

Sky'sScotland correspondent Connor Gilliesputs it to him that some are suggesting he is another continuity candidate. He also asks whether he will offer Kate Forbes the post of deputy first minister if he is appointed.

Mr Swinney avoids the second question, saying he will come to that in due course.

He instead focuses on his bid to bring change to the SNP, saying "the opposition parties better watch out what's coming to them".

"We just can't go on as we are today," he says.

"That's that's the reason I'm standing, because if we go on the way we were going today, I think we will face tough times."

He says he is "stepping up to the plate" to "make sure we deliver the change that we need to deliver".

"But I tell you one thing, once I draw the SNP together as one unified team, the opposition parties in Scotland better watch out what's coming towards them," he says.


Swinney wants Kate Forbes to 'play a significant part' in his team

Announcing his bid to become SNP leader, John Swinney has said he wants to see Kate Forbes "play a significant part" in his team.

"She is an intelligent, creative, thoughtful person who has much to contribute to our national life," he says.

"And if elected, I will make sure that Kate is able to meet that contribution and that will be part of a united team that draws together our whole party, which given my deep, deep devotion to the SNP, I think I am best placed to put together."

He goes on to say he wants Ms Forbes to be part of "team SNP and a very involved, senior participant in team SNP".

Kate Forbes is expected to give a statement later today.

Ms Forbes, who narrowly lost out to Humza Yousaf in last year's leadership election, has not confirmed her intention to enter the leadership contest.

However, she has so far refused to rule herself out of the race.


John Swinney confirms bid to become SNP leader

John Swinney has confirmed he intends to stand as leader of the SNP for a second time.

Mr Swinney previously served as SNP leader between 2000 and 2004, later becoming Nicola Sturgeon's number two from 2014 to 2023.

Announcing his bid, Mr Swinney said: "I want to build on the work of the SNP government to create a modern, diverse, dynamic Scotland that will ensure opportunity for all of her citizens."

"I want to unite the SNP and unite Scotland for independence."

He lists "the pursuit of economic growth and social justice" among his priorities.

He also says he wants to "design an approach to net zero that takes people and business with us".

Mr Swinney's leadership bid comes after Humza Yousafannounced he was standing down as SNP leader and Scotland's first minister earlier this week.


John Swinney gives statement - and is expected to launch SNP leadership bid

John Swinney is starting his statement.

He is expected to launch his campaign to become leader of the SNP for a second time.

It comes after Humza Yousafannounced he was standing down as SNP leader and Scotland's first minister earlier this week.

The SNP's Kate Forbes is also expected to give a statement later today.


John Swinney and Kate Forbes to make statements before expected SNP leadership battle

John Swinney is expected to declare his bid to become the new leader of the SNP later today, Sky News understands.

Kate Forbes is also expected to make a statement later on Thursday.

It comes after Humza Yousafannounced he was standing down as SNP leader and Scotland's first minister following his decision last week to cut power-sharing ties with the Scottish Greens - a move which saw his leadership collapse.

Mr Swinney previously served as SNP leader between 2000 and 2004; later becoming Nicola Sturgeon's number two from 2014 to 2023.

He is considered a front-runner for the top job once again, having garnered support from senior figures within his party, including from the SNP's Westminster leader, Stephen Flynn.

The Perthshire North MSP is expected to make a statement in Edinburgh on Thursday morning.

However, he could face competition from the party's former finance minister Ms Forbes, who narrowly lost out to Mr Yousaf in last year's leadership election.

Though the Skye, Lochaber, and Badenoch MSP has not confirmed her intention to enter the leadership contest, she has so far refused to rule herself out of the race.

Read more here:


What are the mayoral contests taking place today?

Voting is taking place in 11 mayoral elections across England today.

They include a contest for mayor of London, as well aselections to the London Assembly, with 25 seats available.

Metro mayor contests are also taking place today in:

  • East Midlands
  • Greater Manchester
  • Liverpool City Region
  • North East
  • South Yorkshire
  • Tees Valley
  • West Midlands
  • West Yorkshire
  • York and North Yorkshire

Metro mayors are directly elected leaders who chair combined authorities.

Of these mayoral posts, three - East Midlands, the North East, and York and North Yorkshire - are newly created and are holding their inaugural election.

There is also one city mayoral election in Salford.


Who is Kate Forbes?

Kate Forbes narrowly lost out to Humza Yousaf in last year's SNP leadership contest.

Ms Forbes has told Sky News she is considering entering the race again in the wake of Mr Yousaf's resignation.

The former finance secretary faced backlash during her campaign last year after admitting she would have voted against gay marriage in Scotland when it was made legal a decade ago.

The Free Church of Scotland member also told Sky News that having children out of marriage was "wrong" and something she would "seek to avoid".

However, the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch stressed that "in a free society you can do what you want".

Ms Forbes had argued that "continuity won't cut it".

After losing to Mr Yousaf by 48% to 52%, she said: "If we are to continue to win elections, we need to continue to listen and maintain trust."

Ms Forbes turned down the role of rural affairs minister, which at the time was seen as a demotion.

Although her views on social issues remain unpopular with some of her MSP colleagues, she was one of the few SNP ministers who did not delete her WhatsApp messages during the COVID pandemic.

Ms Forbes would face resistance from the Scottish Greens, who have previously ruled out working with her.

SNP colleague Fergus Ewing is backing Ms Forbes, saying she is "head and shoulders" above any other potential candidate.

Politics latest: SNP leadership hopeful issues warning to opposition parties (2024)


Who is leading SNP leadership? ›

In 2024, the party leader is also expected to run the Scottish government. John Swinney will become only the seventh first minister of Scotland in Holyrood's 25 year history. After Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf, he's the fourth FM from the SNP.

Who is in charge of SNP? ›

Leader of the Scottish National Party
Incumbent Humza Yousaf since 27 March 2023
Inaugural holderAlexander MacEwen
Formation7 April 1934
DeputyKeith Brown
2 more rows

Who is the new SNP leader at Westminster? ›

Stephen Flynn (Scottish politician)
The Right Honourable Stephen Flynn MP
Assumed office 6 December 2022
DeputyMhairi Black
SNP Party LeaderNicola Sturgeon Humza Yousaf
22 more rows

How is the leader of the SNP chosen? ›

Mr Yousaf has decided to stay on in the role until a replacement is selected. Once his resignation has been accepted by the King, parliament has 28 days to select a replacement. There will then be a vote in the chamber to decide the new first minister, which is passed by a simple majority.

What groups are affiliated with the SNP? ›

every SNP MSP and MP. all SNP councillors. delegates from each of the SNP's Affiliated Organisations (Young Scots for Independence, SNP Students, SNP Trade Union Group, the Association of Nationalist Councillors, the Disabled Members Group, the SNP BAME Network, Scots Asians for Independence, and Out for Independence)

What nationality is the SNP leader? ›

Humza Yousaf (born April 7, 1985, Glasgow, Scotland) is a Scottish politician who in 2023 became the leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the sixth first minister of Scotland when he replaced the long-serving Nicola Sturgeon.

What is SNP responsible for? ›

Most commonly, SNPs are found in the DNA between genes. They can act as biological markers, helping scientists locate genes that are associated with disease. When SNPs occur within a gene or in a regulatory region near a gene, they may play a more direct role in disease by affecting the gene's function.

Is John Swinney the first minister? ›

Premiership. Swinney's term as First Minister of Scotland is expected to begin on 8 May 2024, when he is formally sworn into office at the Court of Session, upon Yousaf's resignation.

Who was the leader of the SNP in 2007? ›

First Minister after election

The SNP initially approached the Liberal Democrats for a coalition government, but the Lib Dems turned them down. Ultimately, the Greens agreed to provide the numbers to vote in an SNP minority government, with SNP leader Alex Salmond as First Minister.

Who was the leader of the SNP in 2000? ›

In 2000 John Swinney MSP was elected leader, defeating Alex Neil MSP by 547 votes to 268 in a hotly contested leadership election to replace Alex Salmond as National Convenor.

Who was the leader of the SNP in 2010? ›

2010 United Kingdom general election in Scotland
LeaderAlex SalmondDavid Cameron
Leader since3 September 20046 December 2005
Last election6 seats, 17.7%1 seat, 15.8%
Seats before61
22 more rows


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