Scotland’s first minister fights for his political future ahead of crunch vote

Scotland’s first minister Humza Yousaf has written to leaders of other Scottish parties in a bid to find “common ground”, as he invites them to talks at his official residence to see how they can work with his minority government.

With Mr Yousaf fighting for his political future ahead of votes of no confidence, he is attempting to build bridges with the other political leaders at Holyrood.

He hopes to hold separate meetings with each group at Bute House in Edinburgh to discuss how they can “contribute constructively”, while acknowledging that there are “strong feelings” about the upcoming votes.

The PA news agency understands letters were sent to the Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Labour, the Scottish Greens and the Alba Party on Friday night.

Mr Yousaf terminated the powersharing deal between the SNP and Scottish Greens on Thursday, leading to the smaller pro-independence party to announce they would back the motion of no confidence in his leadership.

In his letters, Mr Yousaf emphasised that the Scottish Parliament has previous experience of minority administrations which had delivered benefits for “people, communities and businesses”.

He said: “Each group within the parliament must contribute constructively, and I believe Scotland’s people want to see their political parties work together where and when they can, building consensus for the common good.

“I recognise the strong feelings in relation to the confidence debate our parliament is set to have next week.

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

The meetings at Bute House would “discuss matters and establish the scope for common ground”, he said.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, who lodged a motion of no confidence in Mr Yousaf, suggested he is in little mood for compromise.

Mr Ross said: “The only letter Humza Yousaf should be writing is one offering his resignation.

“He says it’s important for the Scottish people, communities and businesses to have effective government as if he’s just discovered it, when he is the one who has ignored their priorities and failed to listen to concerns.

“But given how much his views have changed in the last week perhaps I’ll go along to Bute House, if there’s a possibility I can convince him to support my motion.”

Leaders of the other parties have not yet issued responses to the letters.

Speaking on Friday, Scottish Labour’s Anas Sarwar said: “I am more than happy to engage with people of all parties, but it is clear that Humza Yousaf is out of time.

“He is leading a chaotic and divided political party and an incompetent government that is failing the people of Scotland every single day, and one conversation isn’t going to change that.”

Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie has said it is “pretty clear” Mr Yousaf will not be able to unite Holyrood – urging the SNP to consider finding a replacement for him.

On Saturday, Mr Yousaf’s former leadership rival Kate Forbes urged colleagues to back him in the upcoming votes of no confidence.

Ms Forbes, who came second in the race to succeed Nicola Sturgeon last year, said recent events had been “an embarrassment for every parliamentarian in every party”.

Writing in The National, Ms Forbes said: “It is easy to be loyal to a party when times are good and the party is ahead in the polls.

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

Amid the tight parliamentary arithmetic at Holyrood, the vote of Alba Party Holyrood leader – and former SNP MSP – Ash Regan could be crucial to Mr Yousaf’s political survival.

She is one of the political leaders Mr Yousaf has written to ahead of the confidence votes in Holyrood.

In a BBC interview on Friday, Ms Regan said she had not spoken to Mr Yousaf since the leadership contest last year. She said she is still considering how to cast her vote.

She said: “I think that potentially some of the things he said about me when I left to go to a different political party last year probably shows that it’s always wise to have that level of professional courtesy to people that you work with.”

In October last year, Mr Yousaf said Ms Regan’s defection to Alba was “no great loss”.

On Friday, Mr Yousaf was adamant he would win the confidence votes but said he would not rule out an early Holyrood election.

He told the PA news agency: “When the vote comes I fully intend to win.”


No votes yet.
Please wait...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *