John Swinney announces SNP leadership bid

John Swinney's launched his bid to become the new leader of the SNP and First Minister of Scotland.

He made an announcement in Edinburgh half an hour ago where he confirmed he was the first name in the running.

The veteran Perthshire MSP is the first candidate to put his name forward to succeed Humza Yousaf as SNP leader.

We're told Kate Forbes will make a statement later but Mr Swinney says he wants her to be part of his new government team.

He has been backed by senior party figures including Westminster leader Stephen Flynn.

Five cabinet ministers who have endorsed him, including Fife MSP Shirley Anne-Somerville and Angus MSP Mairi Gougeon, are at his launch event in Edinburgh this morning.

He was introduced by energy secretary Mairi McAllan before speaking.

Mr Swinney says he wants to unite the SNP and the country, adding: "I will pursue priorities that will make Scotland the best our country can be as a modern, innovative, dynamic nation.

"In our advance western society, child poverty is a curse. The Government I aspire to lead will be focused on doing all in its power to eradicate  child poverty."

He added: "I want to focus my efforts on reaching out in Scotland with respect and courtesy to address the obstacles in the way of winning the case for independence."

Humza Yousaf resigned on Monday, after his decision to cut political ties with the Greens was heavily criticised.

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