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Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon to resign after eight years

The first minister said that part of serving in politics is knowing when it is time to make way for someone else

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon speaks during a press conference at Bute House in Edinburgh, Wednesday, Feb. 15 2023.Jane Barlow (AP)

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Wednesday announced her intention to resign, saying that part of serving in politics is knowing when it is time to make way for someone else.

Speaking at a news conference at her official residence in Edinburgh, Bute House, Sturgeon said she wrestled with the decision, but that the pressure of the job was relentless and that she is a human being as well as a politician.

Sturgeon, who has led the country’s devolved government and the Scottish National Party for eight years, has faced months of controversy over a law that makes it simpler for people to change their gender on official documents, the BBC reported Wednesday.

The decision caught political observers by surprise, despite the ongoing controversy over the gender recognition measure. She had vowed to take the British government to court over its decision to block the law and argued that the Conservative UK government was making a “profound mistake” by vetoing the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

Hailed as a landmark by transgender rights activists, the bill would allow people age 16 or older in Scotland to change the gender designation on their identity documents by self-declaration, removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

The legislation sets Scotland apart from the rest of the United Kingdom, where a medical diagnosis is needed before individuals can transition for legal purposes.

But the measure was only one controversy in a career where Sturgeon has been noted for rarely putting a foot wrong.

She had been lauded for her response, for example, to the Covid-19 pandemic, where she won praise for her sober, straight-talking abilities.

That catapulted the idea of Scottish independence from the United Kingdom – the long-held dream of Sturgeon’s nationalist government – back up the political agenda.

Scotland is part of the UK but, like Wales and Northern Ireland, has its own semi-autonomous government with broad powers over areas including health care.

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