Unopposed Sturgeon To Be SNP Leader

Nicola Sturgeon has been elected unopposed as the Scottish National Party's new leader and the country's first minister-in-waiting.

Her leadership will not be officially confirmed until the SNP conference next month, and her election as first minister must be approved by the Scottish Parliament with the assent of the Queen.

She will replace Alex Salmond, who announced his intention to quit as leader following the defeat for the pro-independence camp in last month's Scottish referendum.

SNP business convener Derek Mackay said: "I am delighted that Nicola Sturgeon will succeed Alex Salmond as leader of the SNP.

"She will be a fantastic new leader of both the party and our country. She will build on the substantial legacy and extraordinary achievements of Alex Salmond as the longest-serving first minister, and make her own mark as she leads Scotland forward.''

The race to become the SNP's next deputy leader remains wide open, with Scottish Government Cabinet secretary Angela Constance, minister Keith Brown and Westminster treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie confirmed as candidates this morning.

Mr Brown claims the support of over half of Holyrood's SNP MSPs, including a clutch of Government ministers, as well as a number of councillors and senior grassroots organisers.

But Ms Constance has made a direct appeal to the tens of thousands of new members who joined the SNP in the wake of the referendum, swelling its ranks from around 25,000 to over 80,000.

Many of these will have attained voting rights before the cut-off point of September 23, and will have equal representation under the SNP's one-member-one-vote system.

Mr Hosie aims to secure the maximum number of SNP MPs at the next general election, which he says should not be seen as a re-run of the referendum but an opportunity to hold the Westminster's "feet to the fire'' over unionist devolution pledges.

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