Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced Wednesday her resignation after more than eight years leading its devolved government, in a shock move jolting British politics on both sides of the border. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

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First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has announced her intention to resign from her position as First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party. Sturgeon has served in these roles for over eight years and was previously Deputy First Minister for the best part of eight years before that.

“Being First Minister of Scotland is, in my opinion, the best job in the world.

It is a privilege beyond measure - one that has sustained and inspired me, in good times and through the toughest hours of my toughest days,” says Sturgeon in his statement published today.

“Given the nature and scale of the challenges the country faces, I feel that duty, first and foremost, to our country - to ensure that it does have the energy of leadership it needs, not just today, but through the years that remain of this parliamentary term.

“We are at a critical moment. The blocking of a referendum as the accepted, constitutional route to independence is a democratic outrage. But it puts the onus on us to decide how Scottish democracy will be protected and to ensure that the will of the Scottish people prevails. I am firmly of the view that there is now majority support for independence. But that support needs to be solidified - and it needs to grow further if our independent Scotland is to have the best possible foundation,” the statement goes on.

Sturgeon is the first woman to serve as First Minister of Scotland, and her resignation marks the end of an era for Scottish politics. She has been a key figure in the Scottish independence movement and has been a vocal advocate for Scottish independence throughout her career.

Born in Irvine, Scotland in 1970, Sturgeon joined the Scottish National Party (SNP) at the age of 16. She studied law at the University of Glasgow and worked as a solicitor before entering politics. In 1999, she was elected to the Scottish Parliament, where she has served ever since.

Sturgeon was appointed Deputy First Minister of Scotland in 2007, serving under Alex Salmond. When Salmond resigned as First Minister in 2014, Sturgeon was elected as his successor, becoming the first woman to hold the position.

During her time as First Minister, Sturgeon has been a strong voice for Scottish independence and has worked to strengthen Scotland's economy and social services. She has also been a vocal critic of Brexit and has called for a second independence referendum in Scotland.

In her resignation statement, Sturgeon cited the need for new leadership in the face of the challenges that Scotland is currently facing, including the blocking of a referendum on Scottish independence. She emphasised the need for unity and collaboration in Scottish politics and called on all parties to work together to de-polarize public debate.

Sturgeon's resignation is expected to set off a leadership contest within the Scottish National Party, with several potential candidates already being discussed. Sturgeon has pledged to remain in office until her successor is in place.

As Scotland faces a critical moment in its history, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the question of Scottish independence, the departure of Nicola Sturgeon marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter in Scottish politics.