Outgoing Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon reveals reaction to Jacinda Ardern's resignation

  • 21/03/2023

Outgoing Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon has revealed her reaction to former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's resignation, which came just a month before her own.

Speaking to ITV's Loose Women show on Monday, Sturgeon said she watched Ardern's press conference in January during which she said she would be standing down as New Zealand's leader.

"It's very different so I am not comparing the two situations at all. I remember watching the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern make her statement," Sturgeon said.

"I remember thinking, 'I wish that was me'. I think that's when it went from the subconscious to the conscious. I then realised it was the right time for me. But then you go through that process of, 'am I letting other people down? Is it wrong for my party or the country?'.

"It took me a bit longer to decide, actually I think it's the right time for everybody."

According to local media, Sturgeon also on Monday spoke at an event in London in which she said she hadn't reached a decision to step down yet when she saw Ardern's resignation.

"But I felt a sense of envy," she said.

Ardern resigned as Prime Minister on January 19 citing a lack of energy to remain in the role through the election campaign and for the following term if Labour was victorious. 

"I have given my absolute all to being Prime Minister but it has also taken a lot out of me," she said at the time.

"You cannot and should not do the job unless you have a full tank, plus a bit in reserve for those unplanned and unexpected challenges that inevitably come along. 

"Having reflected over summer I know I no longer have that bit extra in the tank to do the job justice. It's that simple."

There was speculation at the time that her resignation was partly due to the unprecedented abuse levelled at her. Figures released to Newshub show the number of threats against her increased significantly over the past year. 

Ardern, however, denied that abuse played into her decision to stand down.

Meanwhile, Sturgeon, who took the First Minister of Scotland role in 2014, resigned on February 15. She said there was a "physical and mental impact" of doing the job and she couldn't "give it every ounce of energy that it needs". 

“If this was just a question of my ability or my resilience to get through the latest period of pressure I wouldn't be standing here today, but it's not," she said.

"This decision comes from a deeper and longer-term assessment. I know it may seem sudden, but I have been wrestling with it, albeit with oscillating levels of intensity for some weeks."

Sturgeon had been facing domestic pressure over a number of issues, including a controversial gender recognition reform Bill to make it easier for people to change their legal gender and inquiries into her party's finances.

Her husband, Peter Murrell, resigned as the Scottish National Party's (SNP) chief executive on Sunday amid concerns he could face a no-confidence vote. He claimed responsibility for providing misleading responses to media about party membership figures.

Sturgeon's replacement is expected to be announced within the next week after a tumultuous leadership competition.