Will winning a confidence vote be enough to save Humza Yousaf?

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf is spending the weekend fighting for his political life.

The SNP leader is expected to make a series of policy announcements in the coming days to try to consolidate his support.

BBC News has learned he will outline plans to create jobs, tackle climate change and improve public services.

Mr Yousaf could face two votes of no confidence next week – one against himself, the other against his government.

Mr Yousaf said he was determined to focus on “the priorities of the people”.

The Prime Minister has already faced criticism within his own party over the impact on the SNP and the country of the Greens’ approach to economic and social policy.

Mr Yousaf knows this, and his attempt to regain control of a narrative that risks slipping away from him began on Friday in Dundee.

He was due to travel to Glasgow to give a speech on “the labor market in an independent Scotland”.

Instead, Mr. Yousaf was walking around a construction site, trying to look determined in a safety helmet and high-visibility vest.

Image source, Getty Images

Legend, Humza Yousaf visited a construction site in Dundee on Friday morning

“You ask people about housing and it’s one of the biggest questions that comes to their door,” the prime minister told me.

But for now, it’s not the people on the doorstep he needs to convince. They are opposition politicians in the Scottish Parliament.

There are 63 Scottish National Party MPs at Holyrood. There are 65 opposition MPs.

If all opposition members voted against Mr Yousaf in a personal vote of confidence, he would lose and, although he is not legally required to resign, the political pressure to do so would be immense.

If Mr Yousaf could persuade any or all of the seven members of the Green Cohort to change their minds and oppose him, he might survive.

Image source, Getty Images

Legend, The Scottish Greens have strongly criticized Humza Yousaf for ending their power-sharing deal.

Another option would be for him to secure the support of Ash Regan, his former rival for the SNP leadership, who joined Alex Salmond’s Alba party in October.

Ms. Regan set a price for her support – and it increased.

As a first step, she called for competent government, to refocus attention on independence and to act to protect “the dignity, safety and rights of women and children”, a reference to the gender debate which is at the heart of many of Mr. Yousaf’s problems.

Next, Ms Regan added action to safeguard the future of the Grangemouth refinery on the Firth of Forth to the list.

Mr Yousaf is writing to Holyrood leaders from all parties, proposing meetings to discuss how to “make a minority government work”.

“Professional courtesy”

Speaking to BBC News, Ms Regan appeared to suggest that would not be enough.

She also revealed that she had not had a single conversation with Mr. Yousaf since he beat her in last spring’s leadership race.

Ms Regan said: “Some of the things he said about me when I left to join another political party last year probably show that it is always wise to show this kind of professional courtesy to people you work with.”

Video caption, Ash Regan says she hasn’t spoken to Humza Yousaf in over a year

Mr Yousaf had described his former rival’s departure from the SNP as “a small loss”.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland, Central Scotland Greens MP Gillian Mackay defended the power-sharing deal that was initially agreed under Nicola Sturgeon in 2021.

“What the prime minister is basically telling us is ‘you’re dumped, but can we still be friends?’” she said.

“I’m actually quite upset,” Ms Mackay said, apparently in tears, adding: “We don’t want to be in this position, but it’s the Prime Minister who put us here.”

On Mr Yousaf’s part, there was a hint of regret in all the emotion, as he told me he sympathized with Green co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater whom he had kicked out of his government , thus costing them their ministerial positions.

He didn’t “intend to upset them,” he told me, adding that he understood why they were so angry.

Would his letter apologize to them?

“Electoral hell”

Regardless, the channels of communication between the SNP and opposition parties are already open.

Negotiations are underway.

After the failure of the Bute House agreement, he described it as “a Faustian pact that would have delivered us to the gates of electoral hell”.

How does he manage to convince the likes of Mr Ewing, Ms Regan and the former SNP finance secretary, Kate Forbes, whom he narrowly beat to become leader, while reaching out to the left wing of his party and the Greens?

To put it more bluntly: after a week of unrest, how can he survive for long even if he narrowly wins a vote of confidence?

The answer, according to another source close to Mr. Yousaf, is brutal: “he cannot”.

Gn headline
News Source :

Check Also
Back to top button