ANGUS Robertson is the 5-1 favourite to replace Nicola Sturgeon as Scotland's next First Minister, says bookmaker Coral.
Sturgeon has denied being part of a plot against her predecessor, Alex Salmond, testifying under oath in a political saga that is threatening both her leadership and her push for an independent Scotland.
Will Nicola Sturgeon resign?
Nicola Sturgeon is facing mounting calls to quit after she was reportedly found to have misled the Scottish Parliament in her war with Alex Salmond.
The Scottish First Minister's actions have been investigated by a Holyrood committee in Edinburgh.
There is confusion over its findings, however, after the Press Association reported without citing a source that the panel voted 5-4 that she gave an inaccurate account to parliament.
The committee's report is expected to be published next week.
Heaping pressure on Ms Sturgeon to quit, it was reported that it was found she misled the committee itself and therefore misled parliament and potentially breached the ministerial code of conduct.
But it's likely she will try to avoid having to resign because it does not accuse of her of being "knowingly dishonest".
Sturgeon believes it's a politically motivated attack on her, given that the committee's "very partisan leak".
Bookmaker Coral has cut the odds on Sturgeon leaving her position in 2021 to 9-4 (from 11-4).
SNP Candidate for Edinburgh Central, Angus Robertson, "tops the betting to replace Sturgeon, if a leadership race does begin in 2021," according to Coral spokesman John Hill.
Robertson recently wrote in the Edinburgh Evening News: "I for one am pleased that we have a First Minister who has not swept complaints under the carpet.
"All recent polling shows how highly Nicola Sturgeon is rated by the public and I am confident that they want her to continue serving as First Minister."
Who is Nicola Sturgeon?
Nicola Sturgeon, 50, has been Scotland's First Minister since being elected to the leadership role in November 2014.
Also the MSP for Glasgow Southside constituency, she lives in Glasgow with her husband Peter.
Born in Irvine, North Ayrshire, in 1970, Sturgeon joined the Scottish National Party (SNP) at the age of 16 and has been "campaigning for Scottish independence ever since", according to the party's profile on the politician.
Margaret Thatcher provided the inspiration to join politics, according to a BBC profile on her.
But that was only because she prompted "a strong feeling that it was wrong for Scotland to be governed by a Tory government that we hadn't elected," Sturgeon said.
Before being elected as an MSP at the age of 29 – representing the city of Glasgow in 1999 – she worked as a solicitor at Drumchapel Law Centre, helping people with legal problems.
The BBC writes: "In the parliament's early days, Ms Sturgeon had a reputation for being too serious, which partly earned her the title 'nippy sweetie' – but friends and rivals alike are at pains to point out her lighter side."
When Alex Salmond announced he would stand as leader for a second time, he asked Sturgeon to run with him on a joint ticket as his deputy.
The BBC adds, "the Salmond-Sturgeon leadership was a success for the party" as Sturgeon "boosted her profile as the SNP's 'Holyrood leader', grilling Labour's Jack McConnell at first minister's questions every week".
But in 2014, Salmond announced he would step down as First Minister and leader of the SNP after voters rejected independence, and chose to stay in the UK.
Scotland voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Sturgeon said afterwards it should have “the right to look at its future” and have the choice of whether to remain part of the UK or become independent.
“I’m very confident that Scotland will be an independent country in my lifetime – well within my lifetime – and take its seat at the United Nations alongside all the other independent countries of the world, large and small,” she added.
A strong advocate for gender equality, she has spoken at a United Nations meeting on human rights and the role of women in building peace.
Sturgeon raised eyebrows after revoking Donald Trump’s honorary status as a business ambassador for Scotland in 2015 after he proposed a ban on Muslims entering the US.
Sturgeon said she had no objection to golf courses and welcomed American investment.
How did Nicola Sturgeon mislead the Scottish Parliament?
The Alex Salmond inquiry has reportedly concluded it is "hard to believe" Nicola Sturgeon did not know of concerns about the former first minister before November 2017, as she claimed.
The case centres around the Scottish government's handling of sexual harassment allegations against Salmond – who was acquitted in a criminal court.
In March 2020, The Sun Online reported how Salmond spoke of his two-year "nightmare" after being cleared of sexual offences in court.
After being found not guilty of all charges at the High Court in Edinburgh, he said: "I would like to thank my friends and family for standing by me the last two years."
Salmond had denied 13 alleged sexual offences against nine women, who were all either working for the Scottish Government or within the SNP at the time.
While giving evidence, he claimed some were "deliberate fabrications for a political purpose".
Scotland's highest civil court ruled in 2019 that the government acted unlawfully in its investigation of the claims against Salmond.
It awarded him more than £500,000 in legal expenses.
MSPs looking into the botched handling of harassment complaints against Salmond have in March, 2021, reportedly said Sturgeon gave an "inaccurate account" of a meeting with her predecessor.
The panel has been investigating the Scottish Government’s unlawful harassment probe of Salmond in 2018 after taxpayers were forced to foot a legal bill of over £600,000.
Sturgeon appeared before a committee in early 2021, giving evidence in both writing and in person claiming she had not offered to intervene in a harassment probe into alleged bad behaviour by her predecessor.
But Salmond blew that claim out of the water by testifying the opposite, and was backed up by his legal team who were present at meetings with Sturgeon.
His legal adviser Duncan Hamilton said he heard Sturgeon tell Salmond in 2018: “If it comes to it, I will intervene.”
The report is expected to be formally published next week, but its key – unconfirmed – finding was leaked to the media on March 18.
What has Nicola Sturgeon said?
Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon has dismissed suggestions that she misled lawmakers.
A source told the Press Association the panel had voted 5-4 that she gave an inaccurate account to parliament.
But this leak prompted Sturgeon to accuse opposition members on the legislative panel of making up their minds before they heard her evidence.
Sturgeon told Sky News that she stands by the eight hours of testimony she gave to the committee investigating her government's handling of sexual harassment allegations against her predecessor.
She said: "What's been clear is that opposition members of this committee made their minds up about me before I muttered a single word of evidence; their public comments have made that clear.
"So this leak from the committee very partisan leak tonight [March 18] before they've finalised the report is not that surprising."
If Sturgeon is found to have misled parliament, she could be forced to resign for breaking ministerial conduct rules.
Sturgeon said she is waiting for the findings of James Hamilton, a senior lawyer conducting an independent investigation into whether she breached the ministerial code.
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