Feb 15, 2023 - World

Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon resigns

Nicola Sturgeon speaking during a press conference at Bute House in Edinburgh

Nicola Sturgeon speaks during a press conference at Bute House in Edinburgh on Feb. 15. Photo: Jane Barlow — Pool/Getty Images

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made the unexpected announcement Wednesday that she would be resigning from government after eight years in the role.

Why it matters: Sturgeon has been a champion of the Scottish independence movement.

  • The departure makes her the second high-profile female leader in the world to announce a resignation in recent weeks. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said last month that she would be stepping down as leader on Feb. 7, citing burnout as one of the impetuses for the decision.

The big picture: Sturgeon's resignation comes amid an influx of criticism over a policy that would make it easier for people to legally change genders, which Sturgeon has supported, and as her Scottish National Party faces internal conflict about plans for a second referendum on independence, AP reported.

  • In her announcement, made from her official residence in Edinburgh, Sturgeon stressed that her decision was not made due to "short-term issues" but rather that she had been "wrestling" with the move for several weeks.
  • "The nature and form of modern political discourse means there is a much greater intensity — dare I say it brutality — to life as a politician than in years gone by."

State of play: Sturgeon said she has directed the Scottish National Party's national secretary to commence the process of picking a new party leader and that she will remain in the role until her successor is chosen.

  • "I could go on for another few months, six months, a year maybe, but I know as time passed, I would have less and less energy to give to the job," Sturgeon said. "I owe it to the country to say it now."
  • “I believe I have led this country closer to independence,” she said, adding that Scotland was "in the final phase" of achieving that goal.
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