Humza Yousaf faces no-confidence vote as he denies being 'lame-duck leader' of SNP as Greens deal ended

The Bute House Agreement was terminated by First Minister Humza Yousaf

Humza Yousaf is facing a vote of no confidence as he denied being a lame-duck leader in the wake of dramatically scrapping the power-sharing deal between the SNP and the Greens.

The Scottish Conservatives confirmed they will lodge a vote of no confidence in the First Minister, with Tory leader Douglas Ross branding him “weak” and a “failed First Minister”.

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During First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood, Mr Ross told MSPs: “I can confirm today that on behalf of the Scottish Conservatives I am lodging a vote of no confidence in Humza Yousaf.

“He is a failed First Minister. He is focused on the wrong priorities for Scotland. He has governed in the SNP’s interests and not in Scotland’s interests. He is unfit for office.”

Mr Yousaf faced questions about his authority after dramatically ending the Bute House Agreement, insisting it had “served its purpose”. The Greens accused him of “political cowardice” and insisted he could no longer be trusted. 

In a furious statement, they said the SNP, which will now form a minority government, had "sold out future generations".

Tensions had been building between the two parties following the decision to ditch key climate targets and pause the prescription of puberty blockers for under-18s.

The end of the Bute House Agreement means Green co-leaders Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie are no longer part of the Scottish Government.

Green members had been set to vote on the future of the deal, but it was Mr Yousaf who called time on it on Thursday morning.

During a press conference at Bute House, his official residence in Edinburgh, the First Minister said the co-operation agreement had “undoubtedly brought a number of successes” but the balance had shifted.

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He said: “It is no longer guaranteeing a stable arrangement in Parliament, the events of recent days have made that clear, and therefore, after careful consideration, I believe that going forward it is in the best interest of the people of Scotland to pursue a different arrangement.

“That is why, following a discussion with my Cabinet this morning, I have formally notified Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater that I am terminating the Bute House Agreement with immediate effect.”

He said the day marks a “new beginning for this SNP Government”.

Mr Yousaf said he had been thinking about the decision “for quite some time”. However, in recent days he had repeatedly defended the deal in public, insisting he hoped it would continue.

Asked whether his U-turn showed he was “weak and hopeless”, he said: “Quite the opposite. It shows leadership. As leader of the government, leader of the party that elected me, I’ve got to make sure I do what’s in the best interests of Scotland.”

He said he was not pushed into the decision, adding: “It’s my judgement call to decide how we operate as a government.”

He said the co-operation agreement achieved “a lot” and conceded emotions were “raw” following the end of the deal.

Elsewhere, Mr Yousaf denied being a lame-duck leader, adding: “This is leadership. This is the ability to say we are taking control as a party and indeed as a government, on our priority terms, our policy terms.”

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He said the Scottish Government would now refocus its priorities. 

But Ms Slater condemned the move, saying: “This is an act of political cowardice by the SNP, who are selling out future generations to appease the most reactionary forces in the country.

“By ending the agreement in such a weak and thoroughly hopeless way, Humza Yousaf has signalled that when it comes to political co-operation, he can no longer be trusted.”

Ms Slater accused the SNP of having “broken the bonds of trust with members of both parties” and said it had “betrayed the electorate”.

She insisted the Green co-leaders had been “confident” their members would have backed staying in Government, and “continuing our work for Scotland”.

But some high-profile members of the SNP, including former leadership candidate Kate Forbes and party stalwart Fergus Ewing, have previously questioned the arrangement – prompting Ms Slater to claim the “most reactionary and backwards-looking forces within the First Minister’s party have forced him to do the opposite of what he himself had said was in Scotland’s best interests”.

She insisted: “By contrast, we as co-leaders of the Scottish Greens were prepared to put our own political careers on the line with our members, to defend our achievements in government, despite enduring all that SNP backbenchers and others threw against us. ”

Continuing her attack on the First Minister, Ms Slater added: “What a pity he didn’t have the fortitude or the bravery to do the same.”

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Speaking about the SNP, she said: “If they can’t stand up to members of their own party, how can anyone expect them to stand up to the UK Government at Westminster and defend the interests of Scotland?”

Scottish Labour deputy leader Dame Jackie Baillie said: “This chaotic and incompetent Government is falling apart before our eyes.

“Humza Yousaf is too weak to hold his own Government together and he is too weak to deliver for Scotland.”

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy said: “The collapse of this toxic coalition is an utter humiliation for Humza Yousaf, who hailed it as ‘worth its weight in gold’ and continued to back it to the hilt right until the end.

“The First Minister’s judgment is so poor that he couldn’t see what a malign influence the anti-growth Greens have been in Government and his authority so weak that he was bounced into this U-turn by his own MSPs.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said the end of the agreement had left the SNP and Greens “at each others’ throats”.

He added: “They are now trying to blame each other, but in reality they have both failed the people of Scotland.”



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