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Nicola Sturgeon QUITS as First Minister of Scotland amid furore over her push for gender self identification, trans rapist prisoner row and as support for Scottish independence drops to below 2014 referendum level

  • Ms Sturgeon has been First Minister since 2014, she replaced Alex Salmond 
  • Embroiled in vitriolic rows regarding transgender prisoners and independence
  • Press conference at her official residence Bute House in Edinburgh at 11am

Nicola Sturgeon is expected to resign as Scottish First Minister today in a bombshell move after eight years in power.

The Scottish National Party leader will give a press conference at her official residence Bute House in Edinburgh at 11am where she is expected to announce she is quitting.

Ms Sturgeon has been First Minister since 2014, when she replaced Alex Salmond.

But she has become embroiled in increasing vitriolic rows regarding transgender prisoners and her plans to try to force through independence. 

It is not yet clear if she will stand down immediately, or continue in the role until a new SNP leader is elected. 

Support for independence is below the 45 per cent recorded in the 2014 referendum, according to the latest research for Lord Ashcroft

Support for independence is below the 45 per cent recorded in the 2014 referendum, according to the latest research for Lord Ashcroft

A Panelbase poll over the weekend found that 42 per cent want the SNP leader to stand down now, compared to 45 per cent who thought she should stay on until the next Holyrood election. Some 13 per cent were not sure

A Panelbase poll over the weekend found that 42 per cent want the SNP leader to stand down now, compared to 45 per cent who thought she should stay on until the next Holyrood election. Some 13 per cent were not sure

Ms Sturgeon will leave office as the longest serving and first female First Minister since the creation of the Scottish Parliament, a time which saw her lead the SNP to repeated election victories at UK, Scottish and local level. 

But support for independence is currently below the 45 per cent recorded in the 2014 referendum, according to the latest research for Lord Ashcroft.

Meanwhile, the survey has laid bare the fallout from the SNP‘s abortive attempt to loosen gender identity rules.

Some 54 per cent of Scots were against the shake-up – which was blocked by Westminster. 

Worryingly for Ms Sturgeon, just 3 per cent listed it in their top three priorities facing the country – but 46 per cent thought it was in the SNP’s main concerns.

The findings come after a separate Panelbase poll published over the weekend suggested 42 per cent want Ms Sturgeon to stand down now.

Ms Sturgeon has vowed to make the next general election a ‘de facto’ referendum on Scottish independence, after the Supreme Court ruled that she cannot hold another national vote on the issue without approval from UK ministers.

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However, the idea has been criticised by some in her own ranks, and the latest polling indicates that it does not have strong support from the public.

More than two-thirds agreed that people voted for parties at elections for a variety of reasons, and that could not be interpreted as support for independence.

Even among SNP backers, 48 per cent acknowledged an election could not be a de facto referendum, with 44 per cent saying it could be.

The First Minister is continuing to defend the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill passed by MSPs in December, despite growing disquiet in her own ranks.

Ms Sturgeon has been First Minister since 2014, when she replaced Alex Salmond.

Ms Sturgeon has been First Minister since 2014, when she replaced Alex Salmond.

Transgender woman Isla Bryson

Adam Graham pre-transitioning

The First Minister tried to avoid answering questions about Isla Byron, who was convicted of violent sex attacks on two women while a man called Adam Graham.

The shake-up would reduce the age limit for formally changing gender to 16, and remove the need for a medical diagnosis.

Ms Sturgeon has said she still intends to challenge the UK Government’s use of Section 35 to block the law.

Ms Sturgeon struggled at a press conference last week as she was repeatedly challenged on whether she regards trans rapist Isla Bryson as a woman. 

Bryson was initially send to a women’s prison before being transferred to the male estate following an outcry. 

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