Humza Yousaf’s future hinges on tight vote as Greens back no-confidence motion

Humza Yousaf’s future hinges on tight vote as Greens back no-confidence motion

First Minister Humza Yousaf’s political future hangs by a thread after the Scottish Greens said they would vote against him in a motion of no confidence.

The SNP leader dramatically brought the powersharing deal to an end on Thursday morning, angering the smaller pro-independence party’s leaders who accused him of “political cowardice”.

Lorna Slater, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, told the PA news agency: “We no longer have confidence in a progressive government in Scotland doing the right thing for climate and nature.”

The Bute House Agreement gave the SNP-led government a majority at Holyrood but it came under strain in recent days after the Greens said they would put the future of the deal to a vote by their members.

Some in the Greens were unhappy at the Scottish Government’s recent dropping of 2030 climate targets and the decision to pause the prescription of new puberty blockers at Scotland’s only gender clinic.

However as recently as Wednesday, senior figures in the SNP and Greens were publicly supportive of continuing the Bute House Agreement.

The no confidence motion has been proposed by Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross.

With the Greens voting in favour of the no confidence motion, there would be 64 out of 128 MSPs who do not back the First Minister.

The SNP have 63 MSPs at Holyrood while there is also Ash Regan of the Alba Party, who has not yet confirmed which way she will vote.

Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone can cast tie-breaking votes but would be expected to vote in favour of the status quo.

Any vote is likely to take place next week, with timings to be confirmed by parliamentary authorities.

The decision to end the Bute House Agreement means Scottish Green co-leaders Ms Slater and Patrick Harvie are no longer ministers.

Scotland power sharing agreement
Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie accused the First Minister of ‘political cowardice’ (Lesley Martin/PA)

Their MSP group met on Thursday afternoon to discuss their approach to the confidence vote.

Ms Slater said: “Today, the First Minister decided to tear up that agreement, to end the Bute House Agreement.

“And so we no longer have confidence in a progressive government in Scotland doing the right thing for climate and nature.

“So the Scottish Green MSPs will not be supporting Humza Yousaf in a vote of no confidence.”

She confirmed that rather than abstaining “we will vote in favour of a vote of no confidence”.

Ms Slater said the First Minister had “caved in to the conservative, right-wing branch” of the SNP.

The co-leader told journalists in a press conference later that there had already been a “surge” in membership of the party “as we expect pro-independence, progressive people who share our vision for a fairer and greener future are joining the Scottish Greens”.

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

Scotland power sharing agreement
The First Minister brought the agreement to an end (Jeff J Mitchell/PA)

That came after an emergency meeting of the Scottish Cabinet on Thursday morning, where Mr Yousaf terminated the powersharing deal with “immediate effect”.

Speaking to journalists at a briefing following First Minister’s Questions, a spokesman for Mr Yousaf refused to say if he would quit if he lost the vote, describing the question as “hypothetical”.

The SNP leader accused the Tories of game playing, insisting the powersharing deal with the Greens had “served its purpose” and lasted 19 times longer than Liz Truss’s premiership.

Mr Yousaf went on to warn Mr Ross the Tories would be “judged very poorly” for playing “political games”.

The First Minister told MSPs: “I’ll leave it to Douglas Ross to play the political games that he wants to play.

“If he wants to put our record and his party’s record on the line, let’s do that.

“There’s a general election coming this year and I can guarantee you the electorate will give the Conservative Party an almighty thumping, show them the door, and they deserve nothing less.”