HUMZA Yousaf has announced he is stepping down as First Minister after he sent his government into meltdown by binning his power-sharing deal with the Greens.

He fired Green ministers Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie on Thursday, triggering a crisis in the Scottish Government.

Speaking at a press conference in Bute House on Monday, Yousaf admitted he had "underestimated” the level of hurt he caused by ending the SNP's power-sharing deal with the Greens.

He said: "Unfortunately in ending the Bute House Agreement in the matter I did I clearly underestimate the level of hurt and upset that caused Green colleagues.

“For a minority government to be able to govern effectively trust when working with the opposition is clearly fundamental.”

Yousaf had been facing a confidence vote in his leadership tabled by the Tories and a separate bid by Scottish Labour expressing no confidence in the Government as a whole.

The Greens had previously said they believed Yousaf had to go and were open-minded on backing the Scottish Labour motion.

Subscribe to The National for just £20 for an entire year

Yousaf said that he believed that a route through the no-confidence vote was “absolutely possible”.

But he added: “I am not willing to trade in my values or principles or do deals with whomever simply for retaining power.”

READ MORE: Who are the favourites to become SNP leader after Humza Yousaf?

"After spending the weekend reflecting on what is best for my party, for the government and for the country I lead, I have concluded that repairing our relationship across the political divide can only be done with someone else at the helm.

“I have therefore informed the SNP’s national secretary of my intention to stand down as party leader and ask that she commences a leadership contest for my replacement as soon as possible.”

He said he would remain in post until a successor was appointed. 

South Wales Argus: Humza Yousaf

Yousaf (above) became emotional as he paid tribute to his family during the announcement.

Appearing to fight back tears, he said: “I am in absolute debt to my wonderful wife, my beautiful children and my wider family for putting up with me over the years. I’m afraid you will be seeing a lot more of me from now.

“You are truly everything to me.”

Yousaf said he “could never have dreamt that one day I would have the privilege of leading my country”, noting that as a boy, people of minority ethnicities were not seen in senior governmental roles.

READ MORE: Who should replace Humza Yousaf as SNP leader? Have your say

He called Scotland the only country he has ever called home, and at the end of his speech, concluded: “Although of course, I am sad that my time as First Minister is ending, but I am so grateful, I’m so blessed, for having the opportunity afforded to so few to lead my country, and who could ask for a better country to lead than Scotland?”

In a statement, Greens co-leader Harvie (below) said: "Humza Yousaf is right to resign. His position was no longer tenable after he broke the bonds of trust with the Scottish Greens and with everyone who wanted a stable, progressive, pro-independence government. 

South Wales Argus: Patrick Harvie

“It is regrettable that it has ended this way, it didn’t need to. We draw no satisfaction or pleasure from this. But the Scottish Greens could no longer have confidence in Humza Yousaf after he chose to unilaterally end the Bute House Agreement. 

“In doing so he let down the large majority of Scottish Green and SNP members who approved the agreement who wanted it to work."

Harvie said Yousaf had "chose to end a stable majority government and jeopardised the progressive policy programme that both parties had committed to". 

He said: "Now though is the time to return to some stability. The SNP is still the largest party in Parliament by some distance, and has the right to form a minority government. 

READ MORE: John Swinney responds to speculation he could replace Humza Yousaf as First Minister

“The Scottish Greens have a long track record of working constructively from opposition and will do so with any First Minister who shares our progressive values and who can secure our confidence. 

“We know many people will be disappointed by the events of the last week. We are too. But we cannot afford to look backwards.

“This is a pivotal moment for our country, and our politics must live up to the challenges we face, and hold true to our values."

Former deputy first minister John Swinney said Humza Yousaf was a “pioneer” as the "first person of colour to hold office as First Minister".

He added: "He has given principled and empathetic leadership to our country and has worked tirelessly to bring people together."

Scottish Labour have called for an early Holyrood election and are still due to go ahead with their confidence vote against the Scottish Government

Party leader Anas Sarwar said: "The SNP are a divided party which is out of ideas and incapable of rising to the challenges Scotland faces.

“They cannot impose another unelected First Minister on Scotland in a backroom deal, the people of Scotland should decide who leads our country. There must be an election – it’s time for change and Scottish Labour is ready to deliver it.”

South Wales Argus: Ash Regan

Meanwhile Alba MSP Ash Regan (above) said: "The irony will not be lost on many that the event that has cost Humza Yousaf his job was removing the Greens from Government- something most people in Scotland agreed with.

“Alba Party were willing to work in the best interests of Scotland to put independence back at the heart of Government, protect the rights of women and girls, and to get the Government back onto a competent footing.

“The Greens were willing to vote with the Tories and bizarrely some forces in Humza Yousaf’s own party would rather see him resign than deal with a party who really want to advance Independence."

The Scottish LibDems are also calling for a Holyrood election, saying: "Scotland needs a new government – one that won’t make empty promises but will get the basics right."

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack welcomed the news, saying in a statement: “It was the right thing for the First Minister to resign.

"Humza Yousaf’s leadership has lurched from crisis to crisis from the very start, and he could not command the confidence of the Scottish Parliament.

"Scotland now needs a stable, functioning Scottish Government focused on the issues that matter most to people - fixing public services and growing the economy.”