The SNP's devolution deal with the Scottish Greens has collapsed

  • By Mary McCool & Craig Williams
  • BBC Scotland News

video title, The Scottish Greens say the devolution decision shows the SNP is “caving in to reactionary forces”.

The First Minister has ended the SNP's power-sharing deal with the Scottish Greens.

The move follows the government's decision to scrap climate targets and suspend the prescribing of puberty blockers for under-18s.

The Conservative Party has said it will hold a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Hamza Yusuf.

That could come as early as next week and Mr Yusuf faces calls to call an election.

The SNP is now a minority government and needs the support of opposition MSPs to approve its plan in the Scottish Parliament.

The SNP has 63 of the 129 seats in Holyrood, two short of an overall majority, with the Greens on 7, the Scottish Conservatives on 31 and Labor on 22.

The Speaker of Parliament is expected to uphold the status quo in the event of a tie vote.

Former SNP member Ash Regan now sits as an MSP for the Alpha Party.

He is said to be writing to the First Minister outlining his concerns about the Scottish Government's priorities and asking if there are areas where his party and the SNP can work together.

Alex Salmond, a former First Minister and leader of the Alpha Party, said Mr Yusuf had made Mrs Regan “the most powerful MSP in the Scottish Parliament”.

'Future generations sold out'

The conclusion of the Bute House deal began with an early morning meeting between Mr Yusuf and the co-leaders of the Scottish Green Party, Patrick Harvey and Lorna Slater.

They were seen leaving Bute House, the First Minister's official residence in Edinburgh, ahead of an emergency cabinet meeting.

First Minister Hamza Yusuf said he had formally notified Ms Slater and Mr Harvey that the agreement signed by both parties was terminated following the Holyrood election in 2021.

The two Green politicians immediately quit their junior ministerial posts in exchange for their party's support for the SNP-led government.

The Greens later claimed the SNP had “sold out future generations”.

video title, The SNP's devolution deal with the Greens collapsed

A spokesman for the first minister said Mr Yusuf briefed his cabinet for an hour at 08:30 and his colleagues “enthusiastically approved the position” and pounded the table to show their support.

At a press conference later at Bute House, Mr Yussoff thanked his former colleagues for their contribution to the Scottish Government and said the SNP wanted to work with the Greens “where we can” and “in the national interest”.

“The Bute House Agreement was designed to provide stability to the Scottish Government and it has made many achievements possible,” he said.

“But it has served its purpose – it no longer guarantees a stable arrangement in Parliament.

“The events of recent days have made that clear, so after careful consideration I believe a different arrangement should be pursued in the interests of the people of Scotland.”

Mr Harvey had previously said he would step down as co-chairman if the party voted to end the deal, but on Thursday he said his position was a discussion for another day.

Speaking to reporters in Parliament's garden lobby, Mr Harvey said the First Minister's decision was a “total U-turn from recent days”.

Asked if the party would co-operate with the government in negotiating the next Holyrood budget, he replied: “Do you think the current government will still be there in the next budget?”

video title, Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvey, co-leaders of the Scottish Greens, have left Put House.

Bute House accused the end of the deal as “an act of political cowardice by the SNP” and the party “selling out future generations”.

He also said he believed Green members would support the party staying in government if the referendum had gone ahead.

He said: “Neither they nor SNP members will have that chance. Instead, the very reactionary and reactionary-looking forces in the First Minister's party have forced her to do the opposite of what she says is in the interests of Scotland.

“In contrast we as co-leaders of the Scottish Greens are prepared to put our own political lives with our members to defend our achievements in government, putting up with everything SNP backbenchers and others have thrown at us.”

The relationship between the two parties came to a head last week after SNP Energy Secretary Mairi McAllen announced that Scotland's target of cutting carbon emissions by 75% from 1990 levels by 2030 had not been met and would be scrapped.

This sparked outrage from many grassroots Green members.

Mr Harvey said the move had left the party “under pressure” and young trans people may now “not be able to access the treatment they need”.

The first minister said on Saturday she respected the power-sharing deal with the Greens: “I think we've achieved a lot together in government. I want to achieve a lot more.”

When asked if he could lead a minority government soon, Mr Yusuf replied: “I don't think that will happen”.

image source, Twitter/Reuters

image caption, Green is First Minister with co-leaders Patrick Harvey and Lorna Slater

Speaking at First Minister's Questions on Thursday, Green MSPs sat quietly with their heads bowed as Mr Yusuf defended the bipartisan record in government.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross accused the first minister of “panic before the radical Greens threw him out” and said he would hold a vote of no confidence in the first minister.

It is not yet known whether the Greens will back Mr Rose in a no-confidence vote, which will not take place until next week at the earliest.

Mr Ross said Mr Yusuf had “abandoned the platform he stood on”, adding: “Now he says it's a new beginning, but in reality it's the beginning of the end. Isn't Hamza Yusuf a lame duck First Minister?”

'Weak, divided and inefficient'

Scottish Labor leader Anas Sarwar said it was “time to end this circus” and called for an election.

He said: “The challenges facing our country have never been greater, but Scotland's government has never been worse and its leadership has never been weaker.

“The people of Scotland can see the SNP have lost their way: weak, divided and incompetent. Putting party before country.”

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have also said they want an election.

Mr Harvey told parliament the SNP could no longer rely on Green votes in parliament and asked Mr Yussoff who made him happier – Mr Rose, SNP rebel Fergus Ewing or Alex Salmond, the former SNP leader and now First Minister of the Alpha Party.

Which of them does he think can be trusted for a majority in Parliament now?

video title, The decision-making power of Parliament is 'in the hands of the Alpha Party'.

Former SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes – a vocal critic of the SNP-Greens partnership – X previously said on Twitter that she believed the government was most effective “when its priorities match those of the public” and the SNP was “more electable”. Broad Tabernacle, Representative of the Nation”.

He added: “Amidst all the differing opinions within the SNP about this decision [the Bute House Agreement] With FM, some were delighted and others, it's worth reminding ourselves of our core aims: to serve the people of Scotland, end inequality, eradicate poverty, govern well and pursue prosperity like other Indian nations.”

SNP MP Joanna Cherry, another critic of the Bute House deal, said the deal's outcome was a “huge opportunity” to reset the SNP's agenda in government.

He posted on X: “With identity politics and virtue signaling. With policies to tackle the bread and butter issues our constituents bring to their doorsteps.”

Former First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Alpha Party, Alex Salmond, said Hamza Youssef had replaced Alpha's Ash Regan as “the most powerful MSP in the Scottish Parliament”.

Speaking to the BBC after the SNP's devolution deal with the Greens collapsed, Mr Salmond said the First Minister had managed to annoy every opposition party in Holyrood.

Mrs Regan, Alba's only MSP, is writing to the first minister to ask her about the Scottish Government's priorities and whether there are areas where her party and the SNP can work together ahead of the confidence vote.

The SNP government cannot guarantee Yusuf will win next week's confidence vote.

If all the opposition MSPs unite against the Prime Minister, he will lose.

Strictly speaking, the vote is not binding but politically he is more or less forced to resign.

Parliament will have 28 days to accept a successor, otherwise an early election will be held.

So how can Mr Yusuf avoid this situation?

If the Greens cool off next week and abstain rather than vote against him – or switch to some opposition MSP.

The SNP has 63 MSPs. Their opponents have 65. If there is a variable for the government, the presiding officer (equivalent to the Commons Speaker) can result in an expected tie that supports no change.

Alpha MSP Ash Regan is expected to write to the First Minister in terms of his support.

If his vote or at least two MSPs don't vote or sit on their hands, Hamza Yusuf's political survival will be in serious doubt.

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