Humza Yousaf reaches out to opponents ahead of no confidence votes

Image source, Getty Images

  • Author, James Delaney
  • Role, BBC News

The First Minister faces a serious challenge at Holyrood following the collapse of the power-sharing deal between the SNP government and the Scottish Greens.

He has now written to all opposition parties, but his call was immediately rejected by the Scottish Conservatives, calling it “humiliating and embarrassing”.

On Saturday, Mr Yousaf also said the unrest could lead to a snap election in Scotland.

At a crowd in Fife, he again insisted he had no intention of resigning.

Asked if a Holyrood election was possible, he told Sky News: “I can’t rule it out.”

Elections to the Scottish Parliament normally take place after a fixed term of five years, with the next scheduled for May 2026.

The political upheaval began on Thursday when Mr Yousaf abruptly ended the power-sharing deal with the Scottish Greens, known as the Bute House agreement.

The move sparked furious recriminations from the Greens, who later said they would support a motion of no confidence in the prime minister, tabled by the Scottish Conservatives.

Scottish Labor tabled a separate motion of no confidence on Friday, this one aimed at the entire Scottish Government rather than just Mr Yousaf.

It would result in the resignation of all ministers if passed, while the Conservative motion does not require Mr Yousaf to step down if passed.

Letters inviting the Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Labour, Greens, Liberal Democrats and Alba to discussions at Bute House were sent on Friday evening.

Mr Yousaf called for a “constructive contribution”, while acknowledging that “strong feelings” remain ahead of next week’s elections.

He wrote: “Every group within Parliament must contribute constructively, and I believe the people of Scotland want to see their political parties working together where and when they can, to build consensus for the common good. »

“I recognize the strong feelings aroused by the confidence debate our parliament is due to hold next week.

“Nevertheless, I am writing to all party groups at Holyrood to ask them to meet with me next week, in separate meetings, to discuss their concerns and even their priorities, in a hopefully constructive spirit .”

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The SNP has 63 MPs in the 129-seat Scottish Parliament and must now govern as a minority government.

If the Greens vote with Labour, the Conservatives and the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Mr Yousaf will need the support of his former leadership rival Ash Regan to survive votes of no confidence.

Ms Regan, a vocal critic of the Bute House Agreement and the Scottish Government’s stance on trans rights, left the SNP to join the Alba Party last October.

At the time, Mr Yousaf described his departure from the SNP as “without much loss”.

Alba, founded by former first minister Alex Salmond, said its national executive committee would meet this weekend to discuss issues Ms Regan would seek to “move on” ahead of negotiations.

She said the price of her support would be progress towards independence, protection of the rights of women and children, “competent governance” and action to prevent the closure of the Grangemouth refinery.

After receiving his letter from the Prime Minister, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross described it as “humiliating and embarrassing”.

He accused the SNP and Greens of “spectacularly mismanaging” Scottish public services during the deal and called on Mr Yousaf to resign.

In a response published on Saturday, Mr Ross wrote: “His (Mr Yousaf’s) late abandonment of the Bute House deal with the toxic Greens – which he supported just two days before finally deciding to pull the plug – does not does nothing to undo the Bute House agreement. the immense damage it caused.

“Humza Yousaf now talks about delivering ‘substantial benefits to people, communities and businesses 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 prioritize these issues that has led to a complete lack of confidence in his leadership within Parliament.”

Mr Ross added: “He should now accept that his term is over and finally offer his resignation as Prime Minister.

“If he does not do so before the Scottish Conservative vote of no confidence next week, his future as Prime Minister rests on a vote currently so finely balanced that his credibility as leader will be totally destroyed, whatever the result. .”

Kate Forbes calls for loyalty

Legend, Kate Forbes urged pro-independence MPs to support Mr Yousaf

Another former SNP leadership candidate, Kate Forbes, urged SNP members to rally behind Mr Yousaf ahead of the confidence votes.

Ms Forbes, who came second in the competition, said “everyone who cares about Scotland” should support Mr Yousaf.

Writing in The National, she said: “It should be an embarrassment to all parliamentarians of all parties how we ended up here. »

She said abandoning “overly ambitious” climate change targets should have led to government partners “sitting down to agree a workable plan to achieve them”.

“It is easy to be loyal to a party when times are good and the party is leading in the polls,” she wrote in her newspaper column.

“But you find out what real leadership is – and what real loyalty looks like – when times are tougher and that’s why I will support the SNP and the Prime Minister throughout next week’s fight and I “I urge everyone in our party and everyone who cares about Scotland to do the same.”

Video caption, Confidence vote shows “the will of Parliament” (McKee)

Former business minister Ivan McKee said Mr Yousaf would most likely have to resign if he lost the Tory-led vote, even though there is no legal requirement to do so.

He told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland: “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.

“The vote of confidence, even if not legally binding, would be a clear indication of the will of parliament.

“If you lose a vote of no confidence, then you clearly do not have the confidence of Parliament.

“But I think, as I said, the Prime Minister is using his political skills to negotiate to make sure he doesn’t lose.”

Video caption, Scottish Green MSP angry live on radio after scrapping Bute House deal

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie told the PA news agency on Friday it was “pretty clear” Mr Yousaf was unable to unify the Scottish Parliament.

He said: “He still hasn’t really explained why he made such a radical U-turn and failed to keep a promise on which he was elected Prime Minister.

“So it’s very difficult to see how you can have a conversation that leads to a constructive outcome based on this lack of trust.”

In a radio interview on Friday, Greens MP Gillian Mackay broke down in tears as she described how “upset” she was by the end of the deal.

She told BBC Radio Scotland’s Drivetime show that she had friends in government who were also “hurt” by the breakdown in relations.

She said: “We spent two and a half years working very well together.

“It’s really sad that all of this was destroyed by one person.”

Mr Yousaf canceled his appearance in Glasgow on Friday but then announced his first minority government policy at a housing estate in Dundee.

He promised an £80 million increase for affordable housing over two years, taking the budget for affordable housing provision to £600 million in 2024/25.

He remained adamant that he “fully intended” to win the confidence votes.

He also said he would “absolutely” lead the SNP into the general election and the 2026 Holyrood election.

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