Cabinet convenes

Yousaf ends SNP partnership with Green party

Humza Yousaf speaking today about the ending of the SNP-Green partnership

Scotland’s first minister Humza Yousaf has announced an end to the SNP’s power-sharing deal with the Greens, leaving his government to operate as a minority administration.

His decision to sack the two Green ministers Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie following an emergency Cabinet meeting at Bute House this morning drew an angry response from Ms Slater who accused Mr Yousaf of “political cowardice”.

Earlier this week he had hailed the Bute House Agreement that brought the Greens into government in 2021 and gave no indication that it was under review.

Speaking at a press conference this morning Mr Yousaf acknowledged that the partnership with the Greens had produced a number of successes, not least on the Budget.

“When I said the agreement was worth its weight in gold I meant it,” he said.

But he said it has “served it purpose” and after “careful consideration I believe it is in the best interests of the people of Scotland to pursue a different arrangement”.

He added that “it is clear from events in recent days that it is no longer providing stability.”

He admitted that working as a minority government would be “tough” but said he was used to working with opposition parties and has “no issue with doing so again.”

He spoke of a “new beginning” for the SNP government.

Lorna Slater
Lorna Slater: angry

“I am working tirelessly to build a strong, sustainable economy that works for everyone, to strengthen our NHS and other public services, to build a country in which everyone feels accepted and able to reach their potential, and to do what I can in my own way to create a more peaceful world.,” he said.

Last week the Scottish Greens said members would vote on whether the party should remain in power with the SNP after Energy Secretary Mairi McAllan announced the net-zero target was out of reach.

Mr Harvie has said he would quit as co-leader if the Greens vote to end the coalition with the SNP.

The First Minister previously said he valued the power-sharing deal and did not expect it to be scrapped.

But there has been growing frustration within his party for an end to the Bute House Agreement that brought the Greens into power.

Many SNP MSPs and other members have been angered by policies such as the deposit return scheme, the rent controls legislation and the failure to dual the A9 which have been influenced by the Greens in government.

It is thought Mr Yousaf decided to terminate the power-sharing deal before the Greens may have voted to end it.

Ms Slater issued a statement saying she was confident they would have supported the Greens staying in government.

“Neither they nor SNP members will have that opportunity. Instead, the most reactionary and backwards-looking forces within the first minister’s party have forced him to do the opposite of what he himself had said was in Scotland’s best interests.

“By contrast we as co-leaders of the Scottish Greens were prepared to put our own political careers on the line with our members, to defend our achievements in government, despite enduring all that SNP backbenchers and others threw against us.”

Ms Slater added: “This is an act of political cowardice by the SNP, who are selling out future generations to appease the most reactionary forces in the country.”

Mr Yousaf will now lead a minority administration. Of Scotland’s 129 parliamentary seats, the SNP holds 63 while the Greens have seven. The Scottish Conservatives hold 31 and Labour 22.

During First Minister’s Questions, Mr Harvie asked: “Who does the First minister think he has pleased most today, Douglas Ross, Fergus Ewing or Alex Salmond? And which of them does he think he can rely on for a majority in Parliament now?”

Patrick Harvie: asking who the First Minister will now rely on

Commenting afterwards, he continued, “The issues which matter to the Scottish Greens were core to the Bute House Agreement. Ramping up climate action, standing up for tenants rights, and protecting the most vulnerable people in society. We were committed to making a difference on these, day in day out, as part of the Scottish Government.”

Scottish Conservatives leader Mr Ross told MSPs he would be tabling a vote of no confidence in Mr Yousaf while the party’s chairman Craig Hoy said: “The collapse of this toxic coalition is an utter humiliation for Humza Yousaf, who hailed it as ‘worth its weight in gold’ and continued to back it to the hilt right until the end.

“The First Minister’s judgement is so poor that he couldn’t see what a malign influence the anti-growth Greens have been in government and his authority so weak that he was bounced into this U-turn by his own MSPs.

“It beggars belief that the Greens were invited into government in the first place – but even more astonishing that Humza Yousaf allowed them to call the shots on issues like abandoning oil and gas, further delays to dualling the A9 and A96, devastating fishing curbs and gender ideology.

“Humza Yousaf’s year as SNP leader has been a disastrous mix of scandals, infighting and policy U-turns. The collapse of the power sharing pact he staked his reputation on is not just humiliating, it highlights once again how inept and out his depth he is.”

Craig Hoy
Craig Hoy: humiliation for Mr Yousaf (pic: Terry Murden)

Scottish Labour Deputy Leader Jackie Baillie said “This chaotic and incompetent government is falling apart before our eyes while Scots pay the price.

“Humza Yousaf is too weak to hold his own government together and he is too weak to deliver for Scotland.

“Three years into the Bute House Agreement the promises the SNP and Greens made have been torn to shreds.

“While Humza Yousaf is ditching the Bute House Agreement, he cannot escape the fact that it’s the SNP that has left almost one in six Scots on NHS waiting lists, gutted public services and failed to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

“None of this changes the fact that it is SNP failures that have left Scots with higher bills, higher taxes, fewer jobs and a health care service on the brink.

“The collapse of this ill-fated marriage was inevitable but Scotland needs an entirely new government.”

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