Who is Humza Yousaf? Scotland's new first minister

He has replaced Nicola Sturgeon as leader of the SNP

Humza Yousaf waving
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Humza Yousaf has been sworn in as Scotland's new first minister, leaving many keen to know more about the politician's career and family life.

When Nicola Sturgeon resigned back in February - in much the same manner as New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern resigned just one month before - the UK public were shocked. Despite the nation having become somewhat used to political turmoil  (after all, it's only been a few months since Liz Truss resigned after a mere 44 days in office), Nicola Sturgeon had been Scotland's longest-serving leader.

What followed was a five week leadership contest between Humza Yousaf, Ash Regan and Kate Forbes. With Yousaf taking 52% of the vote after the second stage, it was announced he had won the contest on Monday 27 March, and a day later he was sworn in at Court of Session in Edinburgh. Now, the public want to know more about Scotland's new first minister.

Who is Humza Yousaf?

Humza Yousaf has been a member of Scottish Parliament (MSP) since 2011, previously representing Glasgow Region before he became MSP for Glasgow Pollock in 2016. He was born in Glasgow in April 1985 to Shaaista Bhutta and Muzaffar Yousaf.

Yousaf was educated at the Hutchesons' Grammar private school in Glasgow before going on to study politics at Glasgow University. He then briefly worked in a call centre before becoming a parliamentary assistant to SNP MSP Bashir Ahmad and later an aide to former SNP leader Alex Salmond.

Humza Yousaf's father is originally from Pakistan and emigrated to Scotland with his family in the 1960s, while his mother was born into a South Asian family in Kenya, and Mr Yousaf has often spoken of the racist abuse he has received.

Now, he has made history as the first ethnic minority leader of a devolved government and the first Muslim to lead a major UK party. In a press conference in February he said Scotland "should be proud that a grandson of an immigrant can seek to become the next first minister".

Humza Yousaf career history

Mr Yousaf was elected as a list MSP for the Glasgow region in 2011, and just a year later he was promoted to minister for Europe and international development by then SNP leader Alex Salmond.

He became transport minister in 2016 after winning the Glasgow Pollok seat from Labour, though six months later he was fined £300 and had six penalty points added to his license for driving a friend's car without insurance.

In 2018, Yousaf was promoted again by Nicola Sturgeon, who made him justice secretary as part of a reshuffle of her cabinet team. In the role, he introduced the Hate Crime and Public Order bill which made "stirring up hatred" on religion, sexual orientation, age, disability and transgender identities an offence - though it faced controversy over fears it could have a major impact on freedom of speech.

Yousaf was appointed as health secretary in 2021, at a time when hospital waiting times have soared. However, this problem is not unique to Scotland, and Yousaf has pointed out that the country is the only part of the UK to have avoided NHS strikes.

He launched his leadership campaign shortly after Nicola Sturgeon announced she would be resigning in February 2023, and was widely regarded as the favourite candidate by the SNP establishment as well as Nicola Sturgeon herself.

On 27 March Humza Yousaf was revealed as winner of the SNP leadership vote. His pledges for his time in office include challenging Westminster on its block on Sturgeon's controversial gender reforms, preserving the coalition with the Scottish Green Party, and delivering Scottish independence.

Is Humza Yousaf married? The politicians family life

Humza Yousaf is married to Nadia El-Nakla. The pair got married in 2019 and have a young daughter together named Amal. El-Nakla also has a daughter called Maya from a previous relationship.

The family live in Broughty Ferry, a suburb a few miles east of Dundee, and El-Nakla is an SNP councillor at Dundee City Council, representing the city’s West End.

Humza Yousaf and his family waving from a doorstep

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Humza Yousaf and his wife ended up in the news recently after launching a £30,000 legal claim - which they have since dropped - against a nursery they had accused of discrimination.

The couple claimed to have been told there was no space for their daughter at the nursery, but that applicants with "white Scottish-sounding names" were accepted.

The nursery had said any claim that it was not open and inclusive to all was "demonstrably false" and that it had been forced to spend tens of thousands of pounds "defending our small nursery against their false claims".

Previously, Yousaf was married to former SNP worker Gail Lythgoe from 2010 to 2016.

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Ellie Hutchings
Family News Editor

Ellie is GoodtoKnow’s Family News Editor and covers all the latest trends in the parenting world - from relationship advice and baby names to wellbeing and self-care ideas for busy mums. Ellie is also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University. Previously, Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. When she’s not got her nose in a book, you’ll probably find Ellie jogging around her local park, indulging in an insta-worthy restaurant, or watching Netflix’s newest true crime documentary.