Humza Yousaf says SNP rebel backbencher Fergus Ewing's actions are 'very, very serious'

Inverness and Nairn MSP Fergus Ewing is expected to be suspended from the SNP

First Minister Humza Yousaf says he thinks Fergus Ewing’s recent actions against the Scottish Government are a “very, very serious matter” – but would not confirm if the rebel MSP is due to be thrown out of the SNP over the matter.

Before the summer recess there was widespread speculation the rebel SNP backbencher would have the party whip removed after he voted against the Government.

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The Scottish Conservatives staged a vote of no confidence in Scottish Greens minister Lorna Slater, who is heading up the Government’s plans to introduce a deposit return scheme in Scotland.

Fergus Ewing MSP. Image: John Devlin.Fergus Ewing MSP. Image: John Devlin.
Fergus Ewing MSP. Image: John Devlin.

Mr Ewing, who has been a vocal critic of the proposals, voted against the Government in this vote.

The Inverness and Nairn MSP has also spoken out on a number of other Government policies in recent months, such as highly-protected marine areas, and criticised Humza Yousaf’s administration for delays to dualling the A9 between Perth and Inverness.

It is understood a decision on whether or not to sanction Mr Ewing is due any day now.

Speaking during a visit to Stirling, the First Minister said: “Fergus’s actions, particularly before the summer recess, were really serious. Voting against a Government minister in a vote of no confidence is a very, very serious matter indeed.

“I have spoken to Fergus and the group whip has spoken to him over a number of months around any concerns he has. I’ve always said to Fergus my door is open if he has any concerns about individual policy matters.

“But now it will be up to the group.”

Mr Yousaf would not confirm if the former minister would be suspended.

Punishment for voting against the Government had initially been expected to take place back in June. However, this was delayed due to the death of his mother Winnie Ewing.

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Mr Yousaf said it was “right” for the SNP to give him and his family “time and support” following his mother’s death.

His comments come only days after Mr Ewing was presented with the award for MSP of the year at the annual Holyrood Magazine garden party in Edinburgh.

Mr Ewing has also indicated he plans to vote against the Government again on Wednesday during a Conservative-led debate on licensing holiday lets.



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