SNP crisis

Yousaf rejects Salmond ‘pact’ demand as fantasy

Humza Yousaf
Humza Yousaf has written to party leaders (pic: Terry Murden)

First Minister Humza Yousaf’s spokesman has dismissed as “fantasy” the idea that he must agree to an “electoral pact” with Alex Salmond’s Alba party as a condition for helping him stay in post.

Mr Salmond says Alba will only agree to support Mr Yousaf in a confidence vote this week if the SNP steps aside in some Holyrood seats to allow a single pro-independence candidate to stand.

The former SNP leader and First Minister wants to revive the “Scotland United” campaign that would see all pro-independence parties working together.

But a spokesman for Mr Yousaf said: “This is fantasy. There is no possibility of the First Minister agreeing any deal like this with Alex Salmond.”

Mr Yousaf is facing two confidence votes next week, one in his continued leadership and the second in the government itself. If the latter succeeds ministers will be forced to resign, prompting a general election.

The Alba party’s only MSP – Ash Regan – could swing the vote, effectively elevating the party’s power and influence over the future of the Scottish government.

Mr Yousaf said he will not resign and has appealed to other party leaders to work with him. However, they have said they will vote against him.

Labour’s motion no confidence in the government is expected to take place on either Wednesday or Thursday.

Tory leader Douglas Ross said Mr Yousaf’s letter to party leaders appealing to them to work together was “humiliating and embarrassing”, while Alba has called an emergency meeting of its national executive committee to discuss its strategy.

The latest moves come in response to the chaos that followed Mr Yousaf’s sacking of the Greens from the coalition. He claimed it has “served its purpose” but was no longer providing stability.

In a brief statement issued at lunchtime, Alba said: “An emergency meeting of the Alba Party National Executive Committee will be convened over the weekend where Ash Regan MSP will set out more detail to her party’s ruling body of the areas of importance to the people of Scotland that she will seek movement on,” said the statement.

Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond has suddenly found his Alba party holding a few aces

Feelings are running high, particularly among the rejected Greens whose MSP Gillian Mackay was in tears during a radio interview as she spoke about the First Minister’s sudden decision last Thursday morning to terminate the power-sharing deal.

Mr Yousaf, speaking at a press conference in Dundee yesterday, said: “I’ve heard they’re upset, I’ve heard their anger. And I can honestly say that was not the intention.”

Scottish Conservative leader Mr Ross has described Mr Yousaf’s appeal for support from other leaders as “humiliating and embarrassing”.

The First Minister has called for a meeting at Bute House but Mr Ross has told Mr Yousaf that his “time in power is over” and that he must now tender his resignation as First Minister.

In his letter, the SNP leader said he wants to “discuss concerns and priorities”, but Mr Ross said these are issues he has “repeatedly ignored in favour of his independence obsession”.

He added that the SNP leader “has shown no sign of remorse for the damage his policies have inflicted on Scotland, or offered any proposals to reverse them.

Douglas Ross
Douglas Ross: the FM’s letter is humiliating and embarrassing (pic: Terry Murden)

“This is a humiliating and embarrassing letter, in which Humza Yousaf is begging to be allowed to keep his job. His belated abandonment of the Bute House Agreement with the toxic Greens – which he was backing just two days before he finally decided to pull the plug – does nothing to undo the immense damage it has caused.

“Our NHS, schools, police and public services have all been profoundly hit by the spectacular mismanagement of the SNP-Green government under his leadership, and his last minute U-turn offers nothing to repair that.

“Humza Yousaf now talks about delivering “substantial benefits for people, communities and businesses right across the country”, and only wants to discuss “concerns and… priorities” now that his job is on the line.

“It is his abject failure to have prioritised these issues that has led to a complete lack of confidence in his leadership across the parliament. He should now accept that his time in power is over, and finally offer his resignation as First Minister.

“If he doesn’t do so before the Scottish Conservative vote of no confidence in him next week, his future as First Minister rests on a vote that is currently so finely balanced that his credibility as a leader will be utterly destroyed, whatever the result.”

Comment: Yousaf still learning to be a leader



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