Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney Thursday sent a note to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon telling her he would be stepping down the same day she leaves her post. Sturgeon announced last month that she was resigning as Scottish National Party (SNP) leader and subsequently also as chief executive, effective sometime later in March.
Swinney said he would vacate his role once a new SNP leader is elected later this month. He had served as Scottish Deputy First Minister since 2014, taking over from Sturgeon after she became First Minister. When Sturgeon first announced last month she was resigning, Swinney said he would not run to be her successor. In his letter Thursday, he stressed it had been an honour to serve Scotland and made it clear he still backed Scottish independence.
After almost 16 years as a Minister, I have today written to the First Minister to say that when her successor is appointed I will leave Government. Serving Scotland has been the privilege of my life. Thank you, Swinney posted on Twitter.
Sturgeon replied by highlighting Swinney's unique contribution to our nation and said she understood his decision despite feeling a real sense of sadness.
I could not have wished for a better partner in government than you, and there is no doubt that our Scottish government would have achieved much less had you not been in it, Sturgeon stressed while praising Swinney's deep care and attention to the wellbeing of our nation.
Recalling how he joined the SNP at the age of 15 in 1979 at a time when the party’s prospects of electoral success were “poor,” he said he could “scarcely have imagined that over so many years I would have the opportunity to serve Scotland in Government in the way I have”.
Swinney goes down in history as Scotland's longest-serving deputy first minister after being in the post for nearly nine years. He added he would continue at Holyrood as the MSP for his constituency Perthshire North and said he looked forward to serving with Sturgeon on the backbenches to continue our contribution to Scotland's cause.