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by Chris Marshall
26 July 2023
Fergus Ewing: Atmosphere among SNP MSPs is toxic

Fergus Ewing: Atmosphere among SNP MSPs is toxic

Fergus Ewing, the SNP backbencher, has said the atmosphere among his party at Holyrood is “toxic”.

Ewing, a former government minister, was recently threatened with losing the whip after voting against the government in a vote of confidence on Lorna Slater.

He told the Holyrood Sources podcast that the atmosphere was “not particularly happy” with the SNP group at Holyrood.

He said:  “The atmosphere in Holyrood is not particularly happy now within the SNP group, I'm afraid to say, and so much so that, frankly, there's many of people in the Cabinet and the leadership that haven't uttered a word to me or vice versa, for well over a year. And it's very sad... So the atmosphere is, I'm afraid, not particularly happy.

“Does that bother me a great deal? Frankly, I don't give a damn. I'm not there for a social club, I'm not there to have a happy time in the bar.”

Ewing has been an outspoken critic of the government both on the deposit return scheme (DRS) and the plans for Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) which were scrapped last month amid criticism from coastal communities.

He added: “I respect others who may disagree with me, but I'm certainly not going to be deterred simply because there's a bit of a toxic atmosphere amongst the SNP group in Holyrood.”

Ewing’s mother Winnie, a trailblazing former SNP MP, recently died at the age of 93.

On treating the next general election as a de facto referendum on independence, he told the podcast: “It just does not sack up. The purpose of a UK general election is to deliver a vote which enables the King to ask the largest party capable of forming a government. So to do that is the purpose of a UK general election.

“Now, whether we like that or not, we cannot change that simply because we would wish to have another purpose that will remain the purpose of a general election. And moreover, at a general election people are always going to vote for a whole variety of things. And I suspect that independence will not be one of the key factors in determining people's votes at the general election. It very rarely has been. So I think this is a complete cul de sac.”

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “Humza Yousaf is supposed to be running our country – but he can’t even run a team of MSPs without chaos.

“Fergus Ewing has only confirmed what we already know – Humza Yousaf and his allies couldn’t run a bath.

“A fish rots from the head. We need Humza Yousaf to come clean over the chaos in his MSP group.”

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