SNP budget stalemate leads to election warning

Written by Tom Freeman on 26 January 2017 in News

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay warned not to take support from Scottish Greens or Liberal Democrats for granted in budget debate

Scottish Parliament - credit Anita Gould

A stalemate in a debate in Holyrood yesterday led to warnings the SNP may not be able to pass its budget.

Since the party lost its overall majority last year it requires at least one party to back its spending plans or abstain in order to pass its budget next month, or it could face the prospects of a snap election.

Negotiations are thought to be taking place between ministers and both the Scottish Greens, who want a more redistributive tax policy, and the Liberal Democrats, who have published a list of areas they want more spending on.


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Scottish Labour looked to capitalise by holding an non-binding opposition debate ahead of the real vote next month. MSPs rejected the SNP amendment which said the discussions had been "productive".

Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie said: "The minority Government must demonstrate a willingness to compromise and give ground. We have not yet heard anything specific from the Government in that respect."

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “If anybody in this Parliament thinks it is just a matter of time before the Liberal Democrats agree with the SNP on a budget, then they are mistaken.

“Liberal Democrats have been engaged in serious discussions and will continue to do so. However, if the SNP fail to deliver a significant compromise on their budget then we are on the path towards a snap election which would not be to the benefit of the people of Scotland.”

Scottish Labour accused the government of overseeing cuts to local services, while the Scottish Conservatives said the plans would leave those in Scotland paying the highest taxes the UK.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said the opposition parties would be unable to unite over alternative spending plans. "We have a parliamentary process and we should respect it. Rather than play games, we should work together for the people of Scotland," he said.

Speaking after the debate, Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said the vote meant Mackay would have to "go back to the drawing board".

“The fact that Parliament refused to back the SNP's budget proves that the Nationalists can’t simply bulldoze their plans through Holyrood. There is no majority in Parliament for the SNP's budget. If the SNP wants to pass a budget, it needs to work with the other parties and scrap its plan for £327million of cuts to local services," she said.

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