Nicola Sturgeon is to quit as Scotland’s first minister in a shock decision.
A source confirmed Sturgeon, who has been the country’s longest-serving first minister, will announce her resignation at 11am on Wednesday in Edinburgh.
The Scottish National party leader has suffered a series of political setbacks recently, including the UK supreme court defeat of her plans for a fresh independence referendum and a damaging row over a double rapist being sent to a female jail after announcing she was a trans woman.
It remains unclear when she will leave office, and she may announce a long process to allow her party, which she has led since November 2014, to appoint a successor.
There has been growing speculation that Sturgeon was preparing to stand down at the next Scottish parliamentary election, but not so abruptly. She had repeatedly told reporters she had no plans to quit and intended to lead the Scottish government and SNP into the Holyrood elections in 2025.
Yet a series of opinion polls have shown popular support for Sturgeon personally and for the SNP and independence has fallen in recent weeks, partly fuelled by the intense controversy over the rapist Isla Bryson.