NICOLA Sturgeon's resignation has shocked her party and her rivals in part because just weeks ago she insisted she still had plenty "left in the tank."

The comment to the BBC came after New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that she had "no more in the tank" and would step down.

Appearing on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, the SNP leader was asked if she thought she would be the leader would take Scotland to independence.


She said: “I would like to think so. I think Scotland's going to be independent. Nobody would believe me if I say no, I'd rather it was somebody else. 

“But for me, who the leader is that takes Scotland to independence is less important than that Scotland completes its journey to independence.”

Asked how much was in her tank, Ms Sturgeon replied: “There's plenty in the tank at the moment.

“If I ever - I don't mean just on a single day, everybody wakes up some days and thinks they don't have enough in the tank - but if I ever reached the point, which she has clearly reached, and I think overall I just can't give the job everything it deserves then I hope I have the same courage she's had in saying okay, this is the point to go. 

“But just for the avoidance of all doubt. I don't feel anywhere near that right now. Nowhere near. Nowhere near.”

READ MORE: Sturgeon insists there's still 'plenty in the tank'

After eight years in power, making her Scotland's longest-serving First Minister, Ms Sturgeon's future has been much speculated on, with talk of a possible job at the UN. 

During the Edinburgh Fringe, the SNP leader admitted then that she might not lead her party into the next Holyrood election, saying she will decide whether she is still the right person “nearer the time”.

The First Minister said her “default position” was that she would attempt to win a fifth term in power for her party in 2026, by which time she would have been First Minister for 12 years.

However she also told an audience at the Edinburgh Fringe that it was not a given, and she would have to assess whether she still had the appetite and energy to do it.

“This is a serious job and anybody in a job like this owes it to the public to make sure that they’re the right person to do it, that they've got the energy to do it, that they've got the appetite, that they're prepared to make the enormous commitment that a job like this involves, and to constantly be assessing and reassessing that.

“I think that's important, and I will try my best to do that." 

“And I think most Scottish politicians of all parties will testify to - maybe this is a bit Scottish, not uniquely but particularly Scottish -  I think politicians that get out a touch above themselves very quickly get brought crashing back to earth in Scotland.”

However, she said she remained up for the challenge of fighting a second independence referendum, which she wants to hold in 2023, and failing that fighting the next Westminster election, expected in 2024, as a “de facto referendum” on independence.

She said the line pushed by her opponents that she was “just waiting for the right time to chuck it, to stand down and to move onto some grand international job” was “nonsense”.

She said: “It's wishful thinking on their part. I've been First Minister now for almost eight years and in those eight years I've fought and won as leader of my party eight elections."

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon says she may not lead SNP into next Holyrood election

At a later event at the Fringe, she said she would not “cling onto office” when the time comes for her to quit.

She said: “This is a massive job, it is a difficult job, it takes its toll on you, it takes its toll on your family – you’re to live with restrictions on your privacy and your freedom and I accept all of that.

“I think the country deserves me at every opportunity where I’m putting myself forward for an election to assess again am I still the best person for this – do I think I’ve got the energy and the appetite to do this.

“That is the process I would go through.”

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon will embrace life after politics and not 'cling to power'

Turning to when the time is right for her to resign, Ms Sturgeon said she would not desperately hold on and will instead embrace life beyond Holyrood.

She said: “I don’t want to be and I don’t think I will be the kind of politician that clings to office just because you’re terrified of the life beyond it.

“Whenever I stop being First Minister, and I don’t plan not to be anytime soon, I’m going to be relatively young. I look forward to doing other things in the future – it doesn’t phase me.

“In some ways, it’s a good thing and it’s quite healthy to not find yourself so desperate to cling onto office because you can’t think of any alternative.”

The First Minister's shock resignation means that she now owes Douglas Ross £50.

The SNP leader challenged her Tory rival after he told the Telegraph she would resign this term.

While waiting to meet the Queen at Holyrood,  Mr Ross said he stood by the prediction and Ms Sturgeon asked if he wanted to have a bet.