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by Staff Reporter
25 April 2024
Bute House Agreement between SNP and Greens scrapped

Bute House Agreement between SNP and Greens scrapped

The power sharing agreement between the SNP and the Scottish Greens has been scrapped following an emergency cabinet meeting this morning.

The deal between the two parties had come under increasing strain following the government’s decision to scrap a key climate pledge and the publication of the Cass Review on gender services for young people.

First Minister Humza Yousaf held an emergency meeting of the cabinet at Bute House this morning where the decision was made to end the deal with the Greens.

In a statement at Bute House in Edinburgh, Yousaf said the agreement had been ended with immediate effect.

He said: “After careful consideration, I believe that it's in the best interests of the people of Scotland to pursue a different arrangement.”

He added: “We will now step up our ambition - we will do so as a minority government. That will be tough. We will seek to work not just with the Scottish Greens, but with MSPs from across the Chamber.”

The first minister said today marked a “new beginning” for his government.

He said that while he believed the benefits of the BHA had outweighed the compromises, the “balance has shifted” and the cooperation deal had come to a “natural conclusion”.

“It has served its purpose,” he added.

But he said he still intends to work with the Scottish Greens on an “issue by issue basis”, while the end of the formal arrangement opened the door to the SNP cooperating with other parties in parliament.

He accepted that governing as a minority administration would be “hard” but he said the BHA was no longer offering the stability sought upon its creation. “I do not think we have seen the stability we would like to see in government,” he added.

The duties of the two now-former Green ministers will be absorbed into existing cabinet secretary roles, with a decision to be taken at a later date on whether the vacancies will be filled by SNP MSPs.

It is expected that Slater and Harvie will be eligible to receive a severance payment for leaving office.

Asked whether it was time to call a Holyrood election, Yousaf said he looked forward to the UK general election later this year. He later added his party “doesn't fear a Holyrood election”. 

The Greens have issued a furious statement, accusing the SNP of “political cowardice” for ending the power sharing deal.

In an angry statement, Greens leader Lorna Slater said: “They have broken the bonds of trust with members of both parties who have twice chosen the co-operation agreement and climate  action over chaos, culture wars and division. They have betrayed the electorate. 

“And by ending the agreement in such a weak and thoroughly hopeless way, Humza Yousaf has signalled that when it comes to political cooperation, he can no longer be trusted.”

Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Yousaf said SNP members neither “wanted” nor “needed” a vote on whether to continue the Bute House Agreement.

There appears to have been a re-think in the days since, however, amid concern the Greens could walk away from the power sharing deal first.

The Greens currently have seven MSPs, including co-leaders Harvie and Lorna Slater who hold ministerial roles in the government. The tearing up of the BHA sees the SNP returning to ruling as a minority administration. 

Yousaf previously told Holyrood the agreement was “worth its weight in gold”.

But his former leadership rivals – former finance secretary Kate Forbes and former community safety minister Ash Regan (who later defected to Alba) – both expressed their concerns about the deal during the SNP leadership race. Recently, a growing number of backbench SNP MSPs had spoken out against the deal.

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy said: “The collapse of this toxic coalition is an utter humiliation for Humza Yousaf, who hailed it as ‘worth its weight in gold’ and continued to back it to the hilt right until the end.

“The first minister’s judgement is so poor that he couldn’t see what a malign influence the anti-growth Greens have been in government and his authority so weak that he was bounced into this U-turn by his own MSPs.

“It beggars belief that the Greens were invited into government in the first place – but even more astonishing that Humza Yousaf allowed them to call the shots on issues like abandoning oil and gas, further delays to dualling the A9 and A96, devastating fishing curbs and gender ideology.

“Humza Yousaf’s year as SNP leader has been a disastrous mix of scandals, infighting and policy U-turns. The collapse of the power sharing pact he staked his reputation on is not just humiliating, it highlights once again how inept and out his depth he is.”

Scottish Labour Deputy Leader Jackie Baillie said: “This chaotic and incompetent government is falling apart before our eyes while Scots pay the price.

“Humza Yousaf is too weak to hold his own government together and he is too weak to deliver for Scotland.

“Three years into the Bute House Agreement the promises the SNP and Greens made have been torn to shreds.

“While Humza Yousaf is ditching the Bute House Agreement, he cannot escape the fact that it’s the SNP that has left almost one in six Scots on NHS waiting lists, gutted public services and failed to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

“None of this changes the fact that it is SNP failures that have left Scots with higher bills, higher taxes, fewer jobs and a health care service on the brink.

“The collapse of this ill-fated marriage was inevitable but Scotland needs an entirely new government.”

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