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New ministers

Greens to hold briefs on travel and economy

Sturgeon-and-Harvie

Nicola Sturgeon and Patrick Harvie: ‘Green ministers make an indyref undeniable’, says FM

Green Party MSPs Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater will join the Scottish government with responsibility for sustainable travel and economic matters.

Mr Harvie will be the minister for zero carbon buildings, active travel and tenants’ rights, while Ms Slater will hold the brief for green skills, the circular economy and biodiversity.

Ms Slater will drive a Green Industrial Strategy, helping people access training and opportunities as part of a net zero Scotland, and ensuring our economy is supported through a just transition to net zero.

The appointments follow a confidence and supply agreement between the SNP and the Greens and represent the first time that the Green Party has held government appointments anywhere in the UK.

The Conservatives voted against the deal, calling it a “coalition of chaos” that will be bad for the economy, but the appointments received the required majority for the partnership to be confirmed by the Queen who may be mindful that the Greens want to abolish the monarchy.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the power-sharing pact was “groundbreaking” which has made her mandate for a second independence referendum “undeniable”.

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Under the five-year arrangement, the other five Green MSPs will technically remain in opposition.

Ms Sturgeon said the scale of issues such as climate change and recovery from the pandemic meant there was an increasing need to “try to do politics differently”.

But the goal of an independence referendum was now within her grasp.

“The mandate for that is undeniable – between us, the SNP and the Greens hold 72 of the 129 seats in this Parliament and each one of us was elected on a commitment to an independence referendum,” she told MSPs.

She said the SNP and Greens would “retain distinct voices and independent identities”, but would work “in a spirit of common endeavour, mutual challenge and collective responsibility to deliver for the people we serve”.

However, her appeal to the other parties to move away from “toxic and polarised” politics fell on deaf ears as Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross attacked the underlying purpose of the pact.

“Trying to claim that this is not a coalition, that is quite simply a joke even by SNP standards,” he declared.

“This is not a deal that works for Scotland. This is a deal that works for Nicola Sturgeon. She failed to get a majority and this deal is a consequence of that.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “This coalition agreement – for that is what is is – is just formalising the agreement from the last parliament where Nicola Sturgeon and the NSP hammer our public services with cuts and the Greens simply nod it through.”

He added: “This is no new government, this is not a clean start, this is a deal that more about the constitution, not the climate. It’s about greater control for Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP, not co-operation.”

Green MSP Ross Greer responded to Tory claims that the Greens were “extremist” by saying: “Those of us committed to working together in the interests of people and planet will be taking no lessons from the extremist-enablers on the Tory benches.”

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