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SNP must end powersharing deal with Greens, says ex-leadership hopeful Forbes

The SNP should drop its powersharing agreement with the Scottish Greens and govern as a minority party at Holyrood, Kate Forbes has said.

The former SNP leadership contender blamed the Greens’ policies for the Scottish Government losing support, saying they want to “over-regulate” rural communities.

Ms Forbes has previously said the SNP should “check in” with its members on the Bute House Agreement, the deal which led to the smaller pro-independence party entering government after the last Holyrood election.

But she went further in an interview with the New Statesman, saying the deal “should be repealed and the SNP should operate again as a one-party minority government”.

Ms Forbes was narrowly defeated by Humza Yousaf in the SNP leadership contest earlier this year.

Scottish National Party leadership election
Humza Yousaf continued the powersharing deal with the Greens when he took over in Bute House (Andrew Milligan/PA)

He continued the powersharing agreement, which brought Green co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater into government as ministers.

Ms Forbes, the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, told the New Statesman her party’s “momentum” has stalled and bold change is needed.

She said: “We were elected on a SNP manifesto, not a Green Party manifesto or the Bute House Agreement.

“Nearly all the issues that have lost us support in the last year are found in the Bute House Agreement and not in the SNP manifesto.

“I see it particularly acutely with the economy and in rural Scotland, as the Greens appear to want to over-regulate rural communities out of existence and hike taxes to a rate that will ultimately reduce public revenue.

“That is despite the cost-of-living crisis hitting our economy and the rural sector particularly hard.”

Scottish First Minister vote
Ms Forbes said the SNP needs bold action to regain its ‘momentum’ (Jane Barlow/PA)

She said past SNP governments had “managed to speak for the fisherman in Buchan as well as the working mum in Glasgow”, and she called for a return to that approach.

Ms Forbes also discussed the reaction to her conservative religious views during the SNP leadership contest.

A backlash to comments she made about same-sex marriage saw some of her early backers withdraw their support in the race.

The MSP said: “I don’t think that I was indulging culture wars or appealing to a particular base: I was genuinely answering honestly, and that isn’t as neatly characterised as perhaps a politician that is trying to be nasty for nastiness’s sake.”

She said many in public life are now living in fear of being “cancelled” or receiving abuse, leading to them distorting their real views.

Asked if she would consider another run at the SNP leadership, she said she would “only consider standing if I felt like I was the right kind of leader for the party and the country at that point in time”.

Responding to Ms Forbes’ comments, an SNP spokesman said: “Only a matter of months ago, SNP members voted to elect Humza Yousaf as SNP leader and First Minister after he stood on a platform endorsing the Scottish Government’s co-operation agreement, which 95% of party members voted to support.

“The Bute House Agreement has already delivered vital steps to tackle climate change, a better deal for tenants, and action to reduce poverty and inequality – such as an increase to the Scottish Child Payment and free bus travel for under-22s.

“And the SNP is fully focused on taking action to support households through the cost-of-living crisis by, for example, freezing council tax.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Greens said: “Kate Forbes lost the leadership contest for her party which, some months later, continues to be a considerable source of relief for all those who, like the majority of SNP members and ourselves, believe in a progressive, inclusive form of politics working on behalf of everyone in Scotland.”

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy said: “From the reckless plans to impose Highly Protected Marine Areas on coastal communities, to the flawed gender self-ID Bill, and the rowing back on major road upgrades, the Greens’ bizarre policies are arrogantly out-of-touch with the real priorities of Scotland.

“Kate Forbes is clearly all too happy to shout from the sidelines but she needs to start backing up her rhetoric.

“She failed to step up and support our motion of no confidence in Lorna Slater, who should have been sacked for her shambolic deposit return scheme.

“Until she stops toeing the party line in crucial parliamentary votes, these are empty words.”