Yousaf Poor choice for Greens to back no confidence

Yousaf: ‘Poor choice’ for Greens to back no confidence

Humza Yousaf has said it would be a “poor choice” for the Scottish Greens to back the motion of no confidence in him, after writing to the leaders of Scotland’s political parties to seek “common ground”.

It comes as the Alba Party, whose sole MSP Ash Regan could hold a vote crucial to Mr Yousaf’s future, were holding an emergency meeting to discuss the way forward.

The First Minister is attempting to build bridges with the other political leaders at Holyrood, inviting them to talks at his official residence.

He hopes to hold separate meetings with each group at Bute House in Edinburgh to discuss how they can “contribute constructively”, while acknowledging that there are “strong feelings” about the upcoming confidence votes.

Letters were sent to the Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Labour, the Scottish Greens, the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the Alba Party on Friday night.

Mr Yousaf terminated the powersharing deal between the SNP and Scottish Greens on Thursday, leading to the smaller pro-independence party announcing it would back the motion of no confidence in his leadership.

Mr Yousaf spoke to Sky News on Saturday, saying he hoped to hear from the other Holyrood leaders soon.

It was put to Mr Yousaf that given the lack of support from the Greens, Ms Regan could be crucial to his political survival.

He said: “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, I think, a poor choice to make. So of course I have written to Ash Regan, as well. I look forward to speaking to her too.”

The ruling body of the pro-independence Alba Party, which is led by former first minister Alex Salmond, is holding an emergency meeting over the weekend where Ms Regan will set out “the areas of importance to the people of Scotland that she will seek movement on”.

In his letters, Mr Yousaf emphasised that the Scottish Parliament has previous experience of minority administrations which had delivered benefits for “people, communities and businesses”.

He said: “I recognise the strong feelings in relation to the confidence debate our parliament is set to have next week.

“Notwithstanding that, I am writing to all Holyrood party groups to ask them to meet me next week, in separate meetings, to discuss their concerns and indeed priorities, in a hopefully constructive spirit.”

The meetings at Bute House would “discuss matters and establish the scope for common ground”, he said.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, who lodged a motion of no confidence in Mr Yousaf, suggested he is in little mood for compromise.

Mr Ross said: “The only letter Humza Yousaf should be writing is one offering his resignation.

“He says it’s important for the Scottish people, communities and businesses to have effective government as if he’s just discovered it, when he is the one who has ignored their priorities and failed to listen to concerns.

“But given how much his views have changed in the last week perhaps I’ll go along to Bute House, if there’s a possibility I can convince him to support my motion.”

The Scottish Greens said they would respond formally to the First Minister in due course, but otherwise their position is unchanged.

Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie has said it is “pretty clear” Mr Yousaf will not be able to unite Holyrood – urging the SNP to consider finding a replacement for him.

Leaders of the other parties have not yet issued responses to the letters.

Speaking on Friday, Scottish Labour’s Anas Sarwar said: “I am more than happy to engage with people of all parties, but it is clear that Humza Yousaf is out of time.

“He is leading a chaotic and divided political party and an incompetent government that is failing the people of Scotland every single day, and one conversation isn’t going to change that.”

On Saturday, Mr Yousaf’s former leadership rival Kate Forbes urged colleagues to back him in the upcoming votes of no confidence.

Ms 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”.

Amid the tight parliamentary arithmetic at Holyrood, the vote of Alba Party Holyrood leader – and former SNP MSP – Ms Regan could be crucial to Mr Yousaf’s political survival.

In a BBC interview on Friday, Ms Regan said she had not spoken to Mr Yousaf since the leadership contest last year. She said she is still considering how to cast her vote.

She said: “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.”

In October last year, Mr Yousaf said Ms Regan’s defection to Alba was “no great loss”.

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