Yousaf declines invitation to address Westminster
Humza Yousaf has been criticised for rejecting an invitation to appear before MPs at Westminster considering relations between the the UK and Scottish governments.
The SNP leader told Pete Wishart, the SNP MP and convener of the Scottish affairs committee, that he had to focus on his role as First Minister.
He was invited to join his predecessors Nicola Sturgeon, Alex Salmond, Jack McConnell and Henry McLeish who have all agreed to appear. Ms Sturgeon also turned down an invitation during her time in Bute House.
In a letter to Mr Wishart, the First Minister said: “Unfortunately, due to my extensive commitments as first minister, I am unable to accept the invitation to appear before the committee.
“As the committee is aware, I am accountable to the Scottish parliament for the decisions and actions of the Scottish government.
“Sessions such as weekly first minister’s questions and my evidence sessions with the Scottish parliament conveners group are an important feature of my commitment to ensuring that the parliament can fully discharge its essential scrutiny function.
“I understand that the Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, Angus
Robertson, has accepted an invitation to discuss the Scottish Government’s written evidence
to your inquiry, Intergovernmental relations: 25 years since the Scotland Act 1998, with the
Committee in early March.”
In a statement, Mr Wishart said: “It’s disappointing that the first minister isn’t able to give evidence to the committee, citing a similar outlook to previous serving first ministers — that his primary responsibility, while in office, is to the Scottish parliament. The invitation remains open if Mr Yousaf’s availability changes.”
Commenting on Mr Yousaf’s decision to decline the invitation, Scottish Conservative Party leader and member of the committee, Douglas Ross, said: “Given his criticism of all things Westminster, I would have thought he would have relished the chance to air his views to the committee.”
Ms Sturgeon last year claimed her diary commitments prevented her accepting an an invitation to appear before the committee. However, she did find time for a trip to London to appear on ITV’s Loose Women and gave a speech to the Royal Society of Arts.
In Glasgow today Mr Yousaf will launch his party’s general election campaign alongside Westminster leader Stephen Flynn.
Mr Yousaf will also declare that a Westminster election this year is an opportunity for voters to kick the Tories out of Scotland for good.
He is expected to say: “Today I want to tell you how, together, we can get the best outcome for the country.
“The first step we take towards a brighter future must be to kick the Tories out. Let’s be absolutely clear here: Rishi Sunak is finished. The Tories are done – thank goodness.
“The damage they have caused to Scotland is unforgivable and this year we must take the opportunity to kick them out of Scotland completely.”
At the last general election, the SNP won 48 out of 59 Scottish seats. Howevever, the SNP faces a rising challenge from Labour and in October the SNP was heavily defeated in a by-election in Rutherglen & Hamilton West.
Mr Yousaf said that in every Tory-held seat in Scotland the SNP is in second place, but he acknowledged that “it’s also the case that in more than half of the SNP-held seats, it is the Tories who are in second place.
“So, to people right across the country, our message will be very clear: vote SNP for a Tory-free Scotland.”