Meet Humza Yousaf: Scotland's First Minister is sworn in

Mr Yousaf, 37, took oaths of office at the Court of Session on Wednesday

Humza Yousaf takes the oath as he is sworn in as First Minister of Scotland at the Court of Session, Edinburgh. PA
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Humza Yousaf has been sworn in as Scotland's sixth First Minister.

He took the oaths of office at the Court of Session on Wednesday after winning the SNP leadership on Monday and being voted First Minister on Tuesday by fellow MSPs in Holyrood.

Wearing a Pakistani salwar kameez jacket and accompanied by his family, Mr Yousaf, 37, pledged allegiance to the king and promised to serve him in the office of First Minister and as the Keeper of the Scottish Seal.

The oath was administered by Lord Carloway, the Lord President of the Court of Session, who heads the judiciary in Scotland.

He told the new First Minister that a “successful democratic system” must be governed by the rule of law and can only be exist “if the government affords adequate protection to the judiciary from unwarranted attack”.

After taking the oaths of office, Mr Yousaf posed for pictures with the Great Seal of Scotland, which is used to cast a wax seal applied to documents authorised by the monarch.

One side features the reigning monarch, while the other depicts the Royal Arms as used in Scotland, according to the Registers of Scotland.


Mr Yousaf later arrived at Bute House, where he was joined by his family on the steps of the First Minister's official residence and greeted his neighbours at The Georgian House next door, on Charlotte Square.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville was the first to arrive at Bute House as Mr Yousaf begins to make cabinet appointments. She did not say if she would be retaining her role.

She was followed by Net Zero Secretary Michael Matheson, who would not say if he was moving jobs, although Scottish newspapers reported on Wednesday he would be taking over from the First Minister as Scottish Health Secretary.

Ukraine Minister Neil Gray was next to enter Bute House and is expected to be elevated to a senior role after serving as Mr Yousaf's campaign manager.

Humza Yousaf is sworn in as First Minister of Scotland — in pictures

Asked by journalists what he was likely to get, Mr Gray said: "Hopefully the opportunity to serve Scotland."

He was followed by Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon, who gave no indication of the job she expected, but her current role had been offered to Kate Forbes, who decided to head for the backbenches instead.

Ms Gougeon served as a junior health minister as well as a junior rural affairs minister before her current post.

Next up was Minister for Drug Policy Angela Constance. She would not be drawn on what job she may be offered, but Mr Yousaf committed to continuing the position — which reports directly to the First Minister — so she could be asked to continue in the role, or be offered a full cabinet position.

Who is Humza Yousaf?

A Glasgow-born son of immigrants from Pakistan and Kenya, Mr Yousaf is the first person from a minority ethnic background to become the First Minister of Scotland.

Mr Yousaf told The National last week if he won: "I think people of colour and Muslims across Scotland will take something of an inspiration,” he said.

He stood against all three opposition leaders in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday for the role of first minister, referencing Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar in his nomination speech.

“It's also quite a signal of the progress that we have made as a country, as well as a Parliament, that two of the candidates putting themselves forward are from minority ethnic communities,” he said.

“That the majority of MSPs in this Parliament belong to parties led by two people of colour, two people of the Muslim faith.

“The fact that no one bats an eyelid at this tells me we are making progress in our nation for which we should all be very, very proud.”

He also referenced his heritage in his speech after becoming SNP leader, paying tribute to his late grandparents, who emigrated from Punjab to Scotland more than 60 years ago.

“As immigrants to this country who knew barely a word of English, they could not have imagined in their wildest dreams that their grandson would one day be on the cusp of being First Minister of Scotland,” he said.

“We should all take pride in the fact we have sent a clear message that your colour of skin, or indeed your faith, is not a barrier to leading the country that we all call home.

“From the Punjab to our Parliament, this is a journey over generations that reminds us we should be celebrating and always celebrate the migrants who contribute so much to our country.

“This is what drives my commitment to equality that will underpin my actions as First Minister.”

The father, who has one child and one stepchild, told his children they would remain his main priority.

Mr Yousaf is the youngest person to hold the post, after being voted in at the Scottish Parliament.

His decision to run to become SNP leader and First Minister came after "careful consideration" of the effect it would have on his family, a fear that was borne out after two people were charged in relation to abuse that he and his family had suffered.

After studying politics at Glasgow University, Mr Yousaf began working as an office manager for the SNP's Bashir Ahmad, the first MSP from an Asian and Muslim background.

Following Mr Ahmad's death in 2009, Mr Yousaf went on to work for other MSPs including Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.

After being elected in 2011 as a Glasgow region MSP, he took his oath to the Queen in English and in Urdu.

He did the same when re-elected in 2016, wearing both a kilt and sherwani to reflect his Scottish and Pakistani heritage.

His father, who is from Pakistan, and his mother, from Kenya, moved to the UK in the 1960s.

What are his policies?

In a letter to floating voters he promised to be the “First Activist” for the push for Scotland to go independent.

Support has been stuck below 50 per cent since Scotland voted "no" in the 2014 referendum.

“How we reach out to no voters is actually pretty simple: we govern well. We do that, people trust us,” Mr Yousaf told The National.

“They trust us, they trust our message.”

He has said he would deal with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak “respectfully, but fairly and robustly”.

Another policy to attract attention has been Mr Yousaf's wish to remove King Charles III as head of state.

He said the switch to an elected head could be made within five years of independence.

In an interview with the Scottish daily The National, he said regional assemblies should begin speaking about “what kind of Scotland we want to see”.

“When we’re independent, we’ll need to get our central bank up and running, we’ll need to transition to a new Scottish currency, which I’ve been keen to do as quickly as possible,” said Mr Yousaf, who is a self-confessed republican.

“But let’s absolutely, within the first five years, consider whether or not we should move away from having a monarchy into an elected head of state.”

Who are his wife and children?

Mr Yousaf is married to Nadia El Nakla, who is part Palestinian but born in Scotland. The couple married in 2019 and have a three year-old daughter together. Mr Yousaf is also stepfather to Ms El Nakla's daughter from her first marriage. They live in Broughty Ferry near Dundee.

Ms El Nakla recently dropped legal action against a Broughty Ferry nursery that the couple believed had discriminated against their two-year-old daughter due to her “Muslim-sounding name”.

Updated: March 29, 2023, 12:41 PM

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