This MSP is the favourite to replace Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader

If Nicola Sturgeon’s time at the top of the SNP comes to an end, who could replace her?

Recent polls indicate that the SNP are still Scotland’s largest party and that they are likely to emerge as such following the next Holyrood elections in 2021. If that is the case, the SNP are unlikely to need a new leader any time soon, however, if they are unable to form a government or if they do come second to either the Scottish Conservatives of Scottish Labour then the game could be up for Nicola Sturgeon, who has led her party since Alex Salmond’s decision to step down in late 2014.

Who could replace Sturgeon if she steps down? The SNP has a range of talented parliamentarians who could put themselves forward for the vacancy if one emerges, but unlike in 2014 there is no one obvious candidate.

According to PaddyPower, the favourite to replace Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader is the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution Derek Mackay, who has been in his post since the 2016 election. Mackay delivered the 2017 budget that altered income tax bands in Scotland and has been the MSP for Renfrewshire North and West since 2011. The firm offers odds of 5/2 for a Mackay leadership.

The joint second favourites are Transport and Islands Minister Humza Yousaf, who has also been in parliament since 2011, and Stewart Hosie, who has been an MP since 2005 and was formerly the party’s Deputy Leader in the House of Commons. The odds offered for each of these possible candidates currently stand at 10/3.

The next favourites in order are the well-known Mhairi Black (8/1), Deputy First Minister and former leader John Swinney (8/1) and Health and Sport Secretary Shona Robison.

The next contest

Unlike the 2014 leadership election, there is unlikely to be just one candidate. Last time, Nicola Sturgeon was Deputy First Minister and the obvious candidate to succeed Alex Salmond. The next contest, which will likely take place after the SNP lose power at Holyrood, will probably have multiple candidates as members battle for the future direction of the party.

Mackay may be the favourite now, but come the next leadership contest all that is likely to have changed.

The full list of odds can be accessed here. All odds were accurate on 24th January 2018.

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