Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention to step down as First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party earlier today, Wednesday, February 15.
Sturgeon, who will remain in office until a successor is in place, is Scotland's longest-serving First Minister ever, having been in the role for eight years. She previously served as Deputy First Minister for nearly eight years prior.
In her announcement on Wednesday, Sturgeon said she does not plan to fully depart from politics due largely in part to her dedication to Scottish independence from the United Kingdom.
“Winning independence is cause I have dedicated a lifetime to,” she said on Wednesday.
“It is a cause I believe in with every fibre of my being.
“And it is a cause I am convinced is being won.
“I intend to be there – as it is won – every step of the way.”
In 2014, Scottish voters said no to independence in a nationwide referendum. However, Sturgeon has since called for another independence referendum - "indyref2" - after Scotland overwhelmingly voted to remain during the UK-wide Brexit vote in 2016.
🏴 To all the people of Scotland - whether you voted for me or not - please know that being your First Minister has been the privilege of my life.
Nothing - absolutely nothing - I do in future will ever come close.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. https://t.co/ZbmmkzyHwK— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) February 15, 2023
Michelle O'Neill, the Vice President of Sinn Féin, said on Wednesday that she regretted to learn that Sturgeon was resigning.
O'Neill said: “I wish to pay tribute to the huge strides she has made in advancing the campaign for Scottish independence, the strong stance against Brexit, and the undermining of devolution by the Tories in London."
Nicola Sturgeon has been one of the most formidable leaders of our generation.
She has led real change as the First Minister of Scotland, and leaves a strong legacy of hope.
It has been a privilege to work with Nicola, standing together for independence and against Tory chaos. pic.twitter.com/5z21YtTetf— Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) February 15, 2023
Mary Lou McDonald, the President of Sinn Féin, offered similar sentiments, saying Sturgeon "has taken a strong stance against Brexit and its impact on Scotland, as well as the undermining of devolved institutions by the Tories in London."
An outstanding leader and advocate for the independence of Scotland. A great friend of Ireland. A wonderful woman and great craic too @NicolaSturgeon pic.twitter.com/0Q75fosvH6— Mary Lou McDonald (@MaryLouMcDonald) February 15, 2023
Extending his best wishes to Sturgeon, Colum Eastwood, head of the Social Democratic and Labour Party in Northern Ireland, said: "She has undeniably demonstrated that a movement for independence is made stronger when you set out an ambitious plan for what a new country will look like, how it will care for its citizens and how it can deliver on the aspirations of all its people.
"But more than that, she has shown how that can be done using the power and potential of devolved government for more than a decade. There are lessons in that for those of us who believe in a New Ireland."
Nicola Sturgeon has been an incredible advocate for her country & for the independence movement.
Even beyond Scotland, her leadership has important lessons for those of us seeking to build a new, better future for our people.
Every best wish for what comes next @NicolaSturgeon— Colum Eastwood 🇺🇦 (@columeastwood) February 15, 2023
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, head of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland, said: "We are on different sides of many debates but her length of service and electoral success must be recognised."
Best wishes to @NicolaSturgeon as she steps down as First Minister of Scotland and SNP Leader.
We are on different sides of many debates but her length of service and electoral success must be recognised. https://t.co/0psYRl1KxR— Jeffrey Donaldson MP (@J_Donaldson_MP) February 15, 2023
Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar wished Sturgeon the best in the future, adding that he always found her to be "a very warm person, articulate and thoughtful, and a very capable politician, who showed huge commitment to her country. She was also a true European."
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin extended his best wishes to Sturgeon, noting how she "demonstrated strong leadership rooted in her vision for Scotland."
Ireland and Scotland are close neighbours and friends, and I've greatly appreciated and valued my regular engagement with the First Minister, particularly at British-Irish Council summits.
I wish her all the best and look forward to engaging with her successor in due course.— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) February 15, 2023