Next SNP leader to be named following five-week contest

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The next leader of the SNP is set to be chosen following a fiery five-week contest.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and former community safety minister Ash Regan have taken part in around 16 hustings as they competed to replace Nicola Sturgeon.

The First Minister announced in February that she would resign after more than eight years in the job once her successor has been chosen.

SNP members have until midday to vote for their new leader – and Scotland’s next first minister, subject to Holyrood approval.

The fate of the three candidates is set to be revealed at around 2pm on Monday at the BT Murrayfield stadium in Edinburgh.

First Ministers Questions
Nicola Sturgeon during her last First Minster’s Questions in the debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA)

It has not been a smooth leadership contest for the party, with acrimonious clashes between candidates and the dramatic resignation of chief executive Peter Murrell following controversy over the transparency of SNP membership numbers.

Frontrunners Mr Yousaf, 37, and Ms Forbes, 32, have particularly clashed over their record in government and their social views.

Polls put the candidates almost neck and neck, with Mr Yousaf favourite among SNP voters, according to an Ipsos Scotland survey of 1,023 Scots, with a net favourability of 11%, compared with 6% for his rival, Ms Forbes.

But the Finance Secretary is viewed more favourably by the general public, with a net popularity rating of minus 8%, compared with the Health Secretary’s minus 20%.

Ms Regan – widely considered an outsider for the job – had a net favourability of minus 24% among the general public, and minus 7% with SNP voters.

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