Hamza Yusuf reached out to opponents ahead of the no-confidence vote

image source, Good pictures

  • author, James Delaney
  • stock, BBC News

The First Minister faces a tough challenge at Holyrood following the collapse of the SNP government's devolution deal with the Scottish Greens.

But his appeal was immediately dismissed by the Scottish Conservatives as “disgraceful and embarrassing” while Scottish Labor said it was an “act of desperation”.

On Saturday Mr Yusuf said further turmoil could lead to the Scottish election.

During a walk in Fife, he reiterated that he had no intention of resigning.

Asked if a Holyrood election was possible, he said Sky News: “It cannot be rejected.”

Elections to the Scottish Parliament are normally held after a fixed five-year term, with the next due by May 2026.

The political upheaval began when Mr Youssef abruptly ended a power-sharing deal with the Scottish Greens in 2021, known as the Bute House deal.

The decision led to angry accusations from the Greens, who later said they would support a motion of no confidence in the first minister tabled by the Scottish Conservatives.

Scottish Labor tabled a separate no-confidence motion on Friday, one in the entire Scottish Government rather than Mr Yussoff's.

It would force all ministers to resign if passed, while the Tory motion would not force Mr Yusuf to stand down if passed.

Letters inviting the Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Labour, Greens, Lib Dems and Alpha to Bute House for talks were sent on Friday night.

He wrote: “Every group in Parliament needs to contribute constructively and I believe the people of Scotland want to see their political parties coming together where and when they can to build a consensus for the common good.”

“I recognize the strong feelings about next week's confidence debate in our Parliament.

“Despite that, I urge all Holyrood party groups to meet in a constructive spirit next week, in separate meetings, to discuss their concerns and indeed their priorities.”

Price for support

The SNP has 63 MSPs in the 129-seat Scottish Parliament and must now govern as a minority government.

If the Greens vote alongside Labour, the Tories and the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Mr Yussoff will need the support of former leadership rival Ash Regan to survive a no-confidence vote.

Mrs Regan, a vocal critic of the Scottish Government's stance on the Bute House deal and trans rights, switched from the SNP to the Alpha Party last October.

At the time, Mr Youssef described his departure from the SNP as “no big loss”.

Alpha, founded by former prime minister Alex Salmond, said its national executive committee would meet at the weekend to discuss issues on which Mrs Reagan was seeking “movement” ahead of the talks.

He said the price of his support would be freedom, protection of women's and children's rights, “efficient governance” and action to stop the closure of the Grangemouth refinery.

After receiving his letter from the First Minister, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross described it as “humiliating and embarrassing”.

In a response published on Saturday, Mr Ross wrote: “His [Mr Yousaf’s] Bute's belated abandonment of the House deal with the toxic Greens – which he supported just two days before finally deciding to pull the plug – did nothing to undo the enormous damage it had caused.

“Hamza Yusuf now talks about delivering substantial benefits to people, communities and businesses across the country and wants to discuss 'concerns and priorities' now that his job is on the line.

“His abject failure to prioritize these issues has led to a complete lack of confidence in his leadership across Parliament.”

Resignation call

Mr Rose added: “He must now accept that his time in power is over and finally resign as First Minister.

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour's deputy leader Jackie Baillie joked that Mr Yussuf's letter was the first the party had received from the SNP in “a decade”.

He described it as an “act of desperation” and called for early elections.

He said: “We will consider the letter and we are ready to work constructively with anyone.

“But to be frank, this is the first attempt in at least a decade to work constructively between the SNP and anybody else, and if they're in a mess, if they're so incompetent, I would question whether we want to work with them in their current position.

Kate Forbes emphasizes loyalty

image caption, Kate Forbes has urged pro-independence MSPs to back Mr Yusuf

Ms Forbes, who came second in the competition, said “everyone who cares about Scotland” should support Mr Yusuf.

to write NationalHe said: “How we got here should be an embarrassing matter for every MP in every party.”

He said postponing “highly ambitious” climate change targets would require government partners to “sit down and agree a workable plan to achieve them”.

“It is easy to be loyal to the party when times are good and the party is ahead in the polls,” he wrote in his article in the newspaper.

“But you find out what real leadership looks like – what real loyalty looks like – when times are tough, and that's why I'll be supporting the SNP and the First Minister in next week's campaign, and I'm asking everyone in our party and everyone who cares. Scotland needs to do the same.”

video title, Confidence vote shows will of Parliament – McGee

Former SNP business minister Ivan McKee said a Tory-led defeat in the referendum would mean Mr Yussoff would have to step down.

He told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland: “I don't think there's any doubt about it.

“A vote of confidence, although not legally binding, is a clear indication of Parliament's will.

If you lose a vote of no confidence, it is clear that you have no faith in Parliament.

“But, as I said, the prime minister is using his political skills to negotiate so that he doesn't lose.”

Patrick Harvie, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, told the PA news agency on Friday that it was “quite clear” that Mr Yusuf could not unite the Scottish Parliament.

He said: “He is yet to clarify why he made such a dramatic U-turn and broke his promise to be elected as First Minister.

“So it's very difficult to see how you can have a conversation that leads to a constructive conclusion based on that distrust.”

video title, Scottish Green MSP upset on live radio after Bute House deal scrapped

In a radio interview on Friday, Green MSP Gillian Mackay broke down in tears as she described how “disappointed” she was with the outcome of the deal.

He told BBC Radio Scotland's Drivetime program that he had friends in government who were “hurt” by the breakdown in relationships.

He said: “We have worked well together for two-and-a-half years.

“To have all that undone by one person is really sad.”

Mr Youssef canceled an appearance in Glasgow on Friday but later announced his first minority government policy at a housing development in Dundee.

He pledged to increase the budget for affordable housing to £600m in 2024/25 and raise £80m in affordable housing over two years.

He was determined to win the trust vote.

He also said he would “absolutely” lead the SNP into the general election and the 2026 Holyrood election.

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