Former community safety minister Ash Regan promised to "bring back unity" as she launched her bid to become Scotland's next First Minister. 

However, the MSP is often referred to as an SNP rebel after she dramatically quit the government last October over the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR).  

The MSP succeeded Annabelle Ewing as community safety minister in 2018, a role which she continued to hold after she was re-elected in the 2021 Scottish elections - until she resigned over the GRR last year. 

Announcing her plans to stand to succeed Nicola Sturgeon in the Sunday Mail she said: "We need to bring back unity, draw a line under certain things and move past them. I believe I am the person to do that."

Name: Ashten Regan

Age: 48

Constituency: Edinburgh Eastern MSP since 2016

Ministerial posts held: Community safety minister (2018–2022)

Best known for: The rift over the GRR Bill was undeniably a key moment for the Edinburgh Eastern MSP.

Ahead of the dramatic exit from the Government during Stage 1 of the bill, Ms Regan was one of 15 SNP politicians to urge for a delay to reform to the Gender Recognition Act. 

Interest in the politician reached a five-year high upon her resignation in October, according to Google search data.

READ MORE: Who is Kate Forbes? The SNP candidate looking to replace Sturgeon

Where does she stand on key issues:

  • Independence

"Independence - nothing less" is the campaign slogan chosen by the former minister as she launched her candidacy. 

She has said that a pro-independence majority at any election in Scotland should be enough to trigger negotiations to leave the UK. 

Ms Regan also vowed to bring together pro-independence parties and organisations to discuss the way forward for the movement in a constitutional convention.

The MSP has made a fresh appeal for independence supporters to back a 'de facto' plan, initially suggested by Nicola Sturgeon, which would treat future elections as votes on independence. 

In an exclusive interview with The Herald, she said:  “We’ve exhausted all the legal routes to a referendum and it’s clear that neither the Tories nor a future UK Labour government will grant a Section 30 order.

 "So, we must ensure that in any national election (Holyrood or Westminster) at least 50% of vote plus one are cast in favour of independence. This offers the best chance of securing the endorsement of the international community for us opening negotiations directly without a referendum. We’d be returning to our roots.” 

  • Gender

Ms Regan has vowed to ditch the gender reforms, which while it could win her favour in some circles, could also be seen as her not standing up to Westminster after it blocked Holyrood legislation. 

The reform ground to halt after Scottish Secretary Alister Jack triggered a Section 35 order under the Scotland Act.

She has said that she would not challenge the UK Government's move to block the bill.

“Taking legal action, which I don’t think we’d win, will be very costly,” she said. 

“A clear and decisive majority of the Scottish people disagree with self-id. They would rather we focused on the issues affecting their day-to-day lives, and especially the cost-of-living crisis; rising energy bills and improving our health service.  

“But if there was an appetite in the country for it, I’d be happy to hand this over to a citizen’s assembly.” 

  • Benefits

The MSP emphasised that support for Scots during soaring costs of living was vital.

“People expect a First Minister to concentrate on boosting the economy, creating jobs and helping them deal with the cost of living crisis,” she said.

  • Net Zero

Ash Regan is a member of the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee, but has said she would not support "an accelerated net zero path". 

"I will stand up for our oil workers and their communities," she added in a Twitter post. 

What has she said about her leadership bid:

“On my first day as leader, I will call for an independence convention to be held. This will involve all pro-independence parties, independence organisations, think tanks and civil society to organise a new independence campaign body. 

“We will create a new vision of an independent Scotland. We will build coalitions, reach out across all of the society and secure a pro-independence majority, which cannot be ignored.”