THE MSPs vying to replace Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader are holding discussions with the civil service to set out their plans for government. 

There are now just nine full days left in the contest, with the ballot closing at noon on March 27.

It's expected that whoever wins will be formally nominated and approved in a vote in Parliament on March 28, making their debut at First Minister's Questions just two days later.


Ash Regan was the first of the three to meet with Scottish Government Permanent Secretary John-Paul Marks on Friday morning.

“It was a pleasure to meet the Permanent Secretary today, and to share my vision for the way forward for Scotland,” she said.

“The positive, constructive, inclusive vision I have been advocating for over my campaign, includes the Independence commission which would be announced on day one alongside the civic-led Convention”.

“I will hit the ground running, I will reach across party lines, and I will deliver for the people of Scotland.

“There are huge priorities in both the NHS and with the economy suffering a cost-of-living crisis."

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“We will tackle them and all else with the full power of parliament and government.

“The Permanent Secretary will now ensure the plans I have previously set out, are communicated, and the formations of the delivery plan are established.

“I look forward to working with him following a successful leadership bid.”

Kate Forbes is due to speak to him this afternoon, with Humza Yousaf also invited to discuss his plans for government with the top mandarin.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “The Permanent Secretary has offered to meet with all three leadership candidates as part of the civil service’s preparations to support the new First Minister.”

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Ms Sturgeon will hold her final cabinet next Tuesday. She will also make a short statement after her final First minister's Questions on Thursday. The Scottish Government said her last pubic engagement would be on the Friday in a healthcare setting.