Beleaguered fHumza Yousaf says he does not rule out Scottish election

Beleaguered fHumza Yousaf says he does not rule out Scottish election

Humza Yousaf has said he does not rule out a Holyrood election after writing to the leaders of Scotland’s political parties asking them to find “common ground” ahead of a no confidence vote.

Yousaf has come under increasing pressure in recent days after his decision to axe the Scottish National party’s governing agreement with the Scottish Greens on Thursday morning.

The first minister, who is facing two confidence motions, sent letters to the Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Labour, the Scottish Greens and the Alba party on Friday night.

Speaking to Sky News on Saturday, he said he “looked forward to hearing back from them soon”.

He said it would be a “poor choice” for the Scottish Greens to back the no confidence motion, which would mean he was dependent on the former SNP MSP Ash Regan – whose defection to the Alba party he described as “no great loss” – for his political survival.

He added: “That would be really disappointing if that is the Greens’ position. As I say, I’ve reached out to them, they are saying publicly that they’re going to support a Conservative motion against – a first minister, an independence government.

“I think that would be a poor choice to make. So of course I have written to Ash Regan as well. I look forward to speaking to her too.”

On Saturday he received the backing of his former leadership rival Kate Forbes ahead of the confidence votes.

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”.

“It is easy to be loyal to a party when times are good and the party is ahead in the polls,” she wrote in the National. “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.”

Forbes has previously expressed doubts about the Bute House agreement, which was brokered by Sturgeon in 2021.

Yousaf’s decision to end that agreement, to the surprise of supporters and opponents alike, followed growing frustrations within the SNP about a host of electorally unpopular policies championed by the Greens.

Tensions between the parties became more apparent earlier this month after the SNP ditched its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2030.

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Also divisive was the decision to pause prescription of puberty blockers at Scotland’s only gender identity clinic for under-18s.

The Greens had announced plans to have a vote on the future of the power-sharing deal before Yousaf pulled the plug.

On Thursday the first minister said the once-stabilising agreement, which gave the SNP a majority when its votes were combined with those of the seven Green MSPs, had now “served its purpose”.

The Bute House agreement also created ministerial posts for the Green party co-leaders, Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie.

Yousaf’s decision led Slater to accuse the SNP of “political cowardice”, and has since resulted in the two no-confidence motions: one in the first minister, the other in his government.

These are expected to take place next week, with the first minister insistent he will not resign.

While maintaining on Friday that his decision was the right one, he is understood to have been surprised by the scale of the backlash. Yousaf has since said he empathises with the Greens’ position and has “heard their anger”.

The SNP’s 63 out of 129 seats gives the party two short of an outright majority, making the support of the Alba party in the Holyrood leader vital.

Regan told the BBC on Friday she is still considering how to cast her vote. “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.”

PA Media contributed to this report