Humza Yousaf is on track to become Scotland’s new first minister after winning the SNP leadership race.
The 37-year-old has replaced Nicola Sturgeon as party leader, triumphing over Kate Forbes and Ash Regan.
Mr Yousaf will now face a vote at Holyrood on Tuesday before Ms Sturgeon’s successor as first minister is confirmed.
Early life and background
Mr Yousaf – the MSP for Glasgow Pollok – was born in the city on 7 April 1985 to a Pakistani father and Kenyan mother.
He was privately educated at Hutchesons’ Grammar School in Glasgow and became interested in politics during his youth.
He went on to study the topic at the University of Glasgow, graduating in 2007 with a MA.
During his time at university, he joined the SNP. He was also president of the Muslim Students Association and was involved in the Students’ Representative Council.
It was straight to Holyrood for Mr Yousaf, taking a job as a parliamentary assistant to the SNP’s Bashir Ahmad – Scotland’s first Muslim MSP.
After Mr Ahmad’s death two years later, he carried on the role and worked as an assistant for a number of MSPs, including Nicola Sturgeon and the then-first minister Alex Salmond, solidifying his place in the party.
Mr Yousaf has been married twice and has a child and stepchild.
Life in politics
Mr Yousaf was elected as an MSP in 2011. At 26, he was the youngest MSP to enter Holyrood at the time.
When appointed minister for external affairs and international development in 2012, he became the first non-white and Muslim minister in Holyrood.
Come 2016, when Nicola Sturgeon was running the show, Mr Yousaf was named transport minister.
Following a cabinet reshuffle in 2018, he was then promoted to justice secretary before taking on the mantle of health secretary in 2021.
Announcing his bid to run for first minister, Mr Yousaf said: “You’ve got to put yourself forward if you think you’re the best person for the job. And I do. This is the top job in the country, and it needs somebody who has experience.”
During his campaign, Mr Yousaf pledged to “work tirelessly” to improve the rights of women and girls.
He also vowed to give youngsters from deprived backgrounds free football club memberships and would look at increasing the Scottish child payment – a £25 per week payout to the country’s poorest families with children under 16
He said: “The benefit of being first minister is you get to choose what your priorities are.
“I would want to see us continue to increase that in order to make sure that it’s helping the poorest and the most vulnerable in our society.”
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While transport minister in 2016, Mr Yousaf was caught by police driving a friend’s car without insurance.
Mr Yousaf claimed it was an “honest mistake”, adding: “And an embarrassing one for me personally. However, it underlines the importance of being properly insured at all times.”
He was fined £300 and had six penalty points added to his licence.
As health secretary, Mr Yousaf has come under fire over the state of Scotland’s NHS.
Health boards are yet to recover from an extremely difficult winter which saw A&E waiting times reach record levels. Although A&E performance has improved since the start of the year, key treatment time targets were again missed earlier this month.
During First Minister’s Questions last month, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross branded Mr Yousaf the “worst health secretary since devolution, but it looks like he is going to fail upwards”.
“He was a transport minister who drove without [insurance],” Mr Ross said. “He delayed the dualling of the A9. And he clapped like a seal when Nicola Sturgeon launched a ferry with painted on windows.”
Mr Ross was referring to Ms Sturgeon’s “launch” of the MV Glen Sannox in 2017, which was said to have had painted on windows at the time. The ferry is yet to be put into service.
Mr Ross added: “In any other line of work Humza Yousaf would have been sacked, not promoted. Forget being SNP leader, why is he even still in government.”
During campaigning, Alex Salmond told Sky News that Mr Yousaf skipped a key vote on gay marriage in 2014 due to “religious pressure”.
Mr Yousaf refuted the former first minister’s claim, stating: “Well I have to say, my recollection is very different to Alex Salmond’s recollection.”
Mr Yousaf claimed he was absent from the historic vote due to the case of a Scottish citizen on death row in Pakistan.