Nicola Sturgeon launches bid for Scottish leadership after Salmond's resignation

Deputy is expected to run unopposed and if elected will become first female First Minister as well as the first woman to lead a Scottish national party

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Nicola Sturgeon today launched her bid to become Scotland’s First Minister after Alex Salmond announced his resignation in the wake of last week’s independence referendum result.

She looks certain to succeed him and become the first female First Minister as well as the first female leader of the Scottish national Party.

Ms Sturgeon, who was widely praised for her performances during referendum campaign, has been Deputy First Minister since the Nationalists came to power in 2007. She has also been deputy SNP leader for ten years.

No other candidate has yet come forward to stand against her and her election looks a foregone conclusion.

Confirming her candidacy, Ms Sturgeon said: “To be the first minister of my country, especially at this exciting and optimistic time, would be both a great honour - without doubt, the greatest honour – and an immense responsibility.

Sturgeon and former boss Alex Salmond campaigning together.

“I am putting myself forward for two simple reasons: I want to serve my party and my country and I believe I am the best person for the job.

“I also hope that my candidacy, should it succeed, will send a strong message to every girl and young woman in Scotland: no matter your background or what you want to achieve in life, in Scotland in 2014 there is no glass ceiling on ambition.”

Mr Salmond announced his resignation last Friday, 12 hours after it became plain that Scottish voters had rejected independence by a margin of 55 per cent to 45 per cent.

Under SNP rules, anyone planning to stand against her has three weeks to step forward. They need to have the backing of at least 100 members from at least 20 local branches.

Voting will take place in October, with the victor announced on November 13 at the SNP conference in Perth.