Nicola Sturgeon today told MSPs European rules mean she cannot block publicly-owned Prestwick Airport from wooing Donald Trump after the US Presidential candidate was branded a “dangerous extremist” at Holyrood.
It emerged last week that the troubled airport is seeking to explore a “strategic alliance” with the Trump organisation which owns the nearby Turnberry golf resort.
Ms Sturgeon recently stripped Mr Trump of his “global Scot” ambassadorial role after he called for Muslims to banned from entering the US amid concern over terrorist attacks.
Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie told Ms Sturgeon at First Ministers Questions: “It’s been clear for many years for anyone who cared to take an interest that Donald Trump was an arrogant and racist bully.
“I had thought that when Nicola Sturgeon took the decision to rightly kick him out of the Global Scot network, the Scottish Government had come to regret ever courting his business.
“But now it appears that Prestwick Airport, publicly owned by the Scottish Government, is pursuing an official partnership - a strategic alliance - with the Trump organisation.”
He added: “Any owner of any business, but particularly a Government that exists to serve the public interest must ensure that the business it owns cuts ties with such a dangerous extremist.”
Ms Sturgeon told the Greens co-leader that her views on the tycoon - who looks poised to become the official Republican candidate in the US Presidential race - are not “materially different” from Mr Harvie.
But she insisted there is no “contractual relationship” between Mr Trump and the airport.
And she added: “In terms of the operation of Glasgow Prestwick Airport, European state-aid rules require that airport to be operated on a wholly commercial basis at arms length from the Scottish Government.
“We’re not permitted to intervene in the commercial discussions of the airport. We brought that airport into state ownership to save it from closure. It is making progress, the management there are making progress in getting that airport onto a better footing. I think we should get behind them as we continue to make these efforts.”