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Nicola Sturgeon survives vote of no confidence in her leadership

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A total of 31 MSPs backed the motion today in parliament, with 65 voting against; 27 abstained.

The First Minister has survived a vote of no confidence today, brought in by the Scottish Conservatives in light of her conduct and involvement with the Alex Salmond investigation.

Ms. Sturgeon was accused of misleading parliament in the lead up to the trial, resulting in two separate inquiries concerning if she did indeed mislead parliament, and if she has broken the ministerial code.

A Holyrood Committee investigating Sturgeon’s conduct found her to have indeed misled parliament earlier today.

Separate findings in an independent inquiry by James Hamilton have concluded that the First Minister did not breach the ministerial code, and did not mislead parliament knowingly.

The Tories intent to bring a vote of no confidence against Ms. Sturgeon has been widely known since evidence was presented to parliament suggesting that the First Minister ignored legal advice concerning the Alex Salmond case that suggested the government would lose the case, subsequently using taxpayer’s money to proceed when advised not to.

Calls for the First Minister to resign over her conduct have been cross-party, with a clear view that if she misled parliament, she should immediately quit.

The vote was not anticipated to be successful due to the Scottish Greens stating they would not support it, automatically killing the motion in the water due to the majority government they comprise with the SNP.

Speaking during the debate, Ms Sturgeon said she would have quit if she had been found to have broken the code.

“Had Mr Hamilton’s report gone the other way, I would have accepted it, had he found that I had breached the code in anything other than the most technical and immaterial of ways, I would have been standing here right now tendering my resignation,” she said.

“The integrity of the office I am so privileged to hold really does matter to me.

“The office of first minister is more important than any temporary incumbent of it.”

And in a message for the Scottish Tories, she told them: “If you think you can bully me out of office, you are mistaken and you misjudge me.

“If you want to remove me as first minister, do it in an election.”

The first minister added: “If today’s desperate political stunt proves anything, it is that you have no confidence whatsoever in your ability to do so, because you have nothing positive to offer the Scottish people.”

Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said Ms Sturgeon should have done the “honourable” thing and stood down after being found to have misled parliament.

“After all that evidence-gathering and deliberation, the committee found that Nicola Sturgeon misled this parliament, nothing can erase that fact, however inconvenient it is to the first minister and her supporters,” she said.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar took aim at both the Tories and the SNP, telling MSPs: “We cannot support a motion which is designed not to deliver the kind of strong opposition they promised, but purely at dividing our country and our politics still further.

“A failing government on one hand; a game-playing opposition on the other.”

He added: “The Conservatives have shown themselves as only interested in removing Nicola Sturgeon from office, rather than the facts of this terrible series of events. They have undermined the integrity of the independent investigator.

“Yet even the most ardent SNP supporter must recognise the women who complained were let down by the government and that half a million pounds was wasted defending the indefensible in court.”

The First Minister will remain leader of the SNP as we move into election season in Scotland.

Featured Image Credit: Sky News

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