Graeme McCormick pulls out of SNP leadership race paving way for John Swinney | Politics News

Graeme McCormick has pulled out of the race to become SNP leader and instead endorsed rival John Swinney as Scotland’s next first minister.

Mr McCormick’s decision not to pursue a leadership bid leaves Mr Swinney as the only official candidate after Humza Yousaf announced he is stepping down.

Mr Yousaf said he was resigning last week after he decided to end the power-sharing agreement with the Scottish Green Party.

In a statement shared with Sky News, Mr McCormick, a party activist, said he had had a “lengthy and fruitful conversation” with Mr Swinney, adding that he had “met the threshold set by the party rules”.

“John and I agreed the challenges which the SNP, our government and our people face, and explored new thinking on a range of issues which I am confident, as they are advanced, will inspire activists both within the SNP and wider independence movement in the following weeks and months,” he said.

“This is a fresh start for our members and our politicians, and I’m sure that John’s determination to deliver Independence will be rewarded at the forthcoming general election.

“I have therefore concluded that I shall not proceed with my nomination for party leader but instead support John Swinney’s nomination for party leader and first minister of Scotland.”

It means the party will avoid a three-week leadership contest, which would have been triggered had Mr McCormick not stepped aside and received. the required 100 nominations.

Barring a bombshell – Swinney will become leader tomorrow

The SNP establishment is quietly breathing a sigh of relief after a wildcard challenger pulled the plug.

Grassroots member Graeme McCormick has been a thorn in the side of the party hierarchy for a long time, but the truth is he never stood a chance of becoming leader.

Apparently, he was gathering the required 100 signatures from party members on his clipboard at an independence rally in Glasgow on Saturday. It doesn’t get more grassroots than that.

His move to trigger a contest would have delayed the inevitable Swinney win, but it would have forced the party to spend three weeks having another internal debate.

It would have been difficult (and embarrassing) for Mr Swinney and co as they try and pull a divided party back together.

Mr McCormick told Sky News he had a discussion with Mr Swinney on Sunday, and it seems the pair came to some sort of agreement.

Many will see this as a small diplomatic win for the incoming first minister as he uses soft power to spare the SNP’s blushes.

Barring a bombshell, Mr Swinney will become leader tomorrow and first minister of Scotland on Tuesday as Humza Yousaf packs his bags and heads for the same door he kicked the Greens out of a few weeks ago.

Read more
Who is John Swinney?
What direction will the SNP take?

Earlier on Sunday, Mr Swinney warned potential challengers from entering the race, saying it would delay the party from “rebuilding”.

“My bid to become SNP leader has received very, very comprehensive support within the SNP. I have sent out a message which is about unifying the SNP to strengthen our party and win Scottish independence,” he told Sky’s Trevor Phillips.

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Yousaf: ‘I’m sad my time is ending’

“I think that is necessary as the SNP is not as cohesive today as the party needs to be, and my campaign has attracted very wide support.

“So I think the SNP has got a chance to start rebuilding from the difficult period that we’ve had under my leadership and, bluntly, I would just like to get on with that as quickly as I can do because every day that we spend in an internal contest, which I think we all probably know the outcome of, we delay the ability for the SNP to start its rebuilding and I want to get on with that as quickly as I possibly can do.”

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