John Swinney elected as Scotland’s First Minister

John Swinney

John Swinney has been elected as Scotland’s First Minister as the governing Scottish National Party attempts to halt its slide in the opinion polls ahead of a UK general election expected in the second half of 2024.

Swinney, 60, will now lead a minority government in the semi-autonomous Scottish parliament after predecessor Humza Yousaf ended a power-sharing deal with the Scottish Greens – a move that led to the resignation of the former First Minister.

MSPs voted 64 to 57 to select Swinney as First Minister. The Scottish Greens abstained from the vote.

Swinney said: “It is an extraordinary privilege and it is my honour to accept the office of First Minister, committing myself to do the best I can for Scotland.

“I will be unapologetic about bringing to this Parliament the measures we can take to eradicate child poverty and I look forward to seeking the support of others to achieve that aim.

“I recognise, that is how it is going to have to work. I am leading a minority Government. I will need to reach out to others to make things happen.

“If we want to fund our schools and our hospitals, if we want to give our businesses a competitive edge, if we want to take climate action, if we want to eradicate child poverty, if we want to change people’s lives for the better, we have to work together to do so.

“I commit my Government to working to create that agreement across the Chamber. I hope there is the space and the willingness for that to happen in the interests of the people who sent us here.

“To the people of Scotland I would simply say this. I offer myself to be the First Minister for everyone in Scotland. I am here to serve you. I will give everything I have to build the best future for our country.”


Sara Thiam, Chief Executive, Prosper (SCDI): “We congratulate John Swinney on his election as the new First Minister of Scotland.

“Prosper has had a positive relationship with Mr Swinney from his time at Westminster, through the early years of the Scottish Parliament, in his Ministerial offices and as Deputy First Minister.

“Over the 25 years of the Scottish Parliament the new First Minister will have seen perhaps more closely than anyone that sustainable growth supports sound public finances, good public services and a prosperous society – and the consequences of a weak economy.

“Given the challenges that Scotland faces now, it could not be more vital that this guides his programme for all of government, relations with Holyrood parties and partnerships with business, public and third sectors.

“We look forward to working with First Minister Swinney on the priorities for a more prosperous Scotland.”

Former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon: “I have worked closely with John Swinney for more than 30 years.

“He was by my side throughout my time as FM – as deputy, friend and confidante. He is one of the kindest and most decent people I know – and without doubt the right person to be FM in this moment, for both party and country.

“Aside from his family, I doubt there is anyone in Scotland prouder of John today than I am. I wish him all the luck in the world.”

Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce: “Congratulations to John Swinney as he is formally elected to the post of First Minister of Scotland.

“As First Minister Swinney works to get his team in place, our urgent plea is for a pro-business and pro-economy policy agenda.

“The cost of doing business, labour shortages, diverging taxation systems are all drags on growth and investment.

“That’s why we need the Scottish Government to work closely with Scotland’s business community to restore business and investor confidence by adopting a clear focus on economic growth.

“We all need to rally together to back Scotland’s businesses and we stand ready to work with the new First Minister to make that happen.”