Humza Yousaf has won the contest to replace Nicola Sturgeon as the SNP leader and Scotland’s first minister.

The 37-year-old health secretary, viewed as the continuity candidate, was named as the winner at Murrayfield stadium in Edinburgh at the end of the bitterly-fought six-week contest.

Kate Forbes, the 32-year-old finance secretary who repeatedly clashed with Mr Yousaf over his record in government, finished runner-up.

Ash Reagan, the outsider who has staked out the most hardline position on Scottish independence during the contest, finished third.

It has not been a smooth leadership contest for the party, with acrimonious clashes between candidates and the dramatic resignation of chief executive Peter Murrell – Ms Sturgeon’s husband – following controversy over the transparency of SNP membership numbers.

Interim chief executive Mike Russell admitted the party was in “a tremendous mess” after the membership row, while even Ms Sturgeon described the contest as “fractious” and acknowledged the party was suffering from “growing pains”.

Polls had made Mr Yousaf favourite among SNP voters. But the most recent Ipsos Scotland found that Ms Forbes was viewed more favourably by the general public – with a net rating of minus 8 per cent, compared with Mr Yousaf’s minus 20 per cent.

Ms Sturgeon announced in February that she would resign after more than eight years in the job, but she did not have a succession plan and has left the push for Scottish independence at an impasse.

The Independent