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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
04 August 2023
Fergus Ewing calls for a vote on the Green coalition for SNP members

Ewing's comments come after Robin Harper, the Greens’ first MSP, quit the party | Alamy

Fergus Ewing calls for a vote on the Green coalition for SNP members

Fergus Ewing has called for SNP members to be given a vote on whether the party should continue to work in government with the Greens.

His comments come after Robin Harper, the Greens’ first MSP, quit the party.  

Harper, who voiced concerns about the Greens’ stance on independence and trans rights, said that the party had “lost the plot” and has said he will now vote for Labour at the next general election.  

Ewing has been a vocal critic of the Bute House Agreement, which was penned in 2021 bringing the Greens into government for the first time. He said that Harper’s decision to quit should “send a message” to Humza Yousaf.

The rebel MSP has called for a new ballot of SNP members to decide whether to continue with the Bute House Agreement or not.  

Ewing said: “[Harper's] main charge, which is that his party has become a party of extremists, is spot on.

“The relationship that we had with the Green Party was supported, yes, by an overwhelming majority of our members in 2021, but that was before it was put into practice and before anyone realised the full enormity of dealing with these extremists.

“Perhaps now is the time to re-ballot SNP members.

“I suspect the result would be very different.”

In a letter to the Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie, Harper said: “My concern that the Scottish Green Party’s public image has been damaged by its failure to cooperate meaningfully with other interests, including the Westminster government, is reinforced by the huge number of friends, acquaintances and random contacts who have expressed to me an opinion that the Scottish Green Party has lost the plot.

“I am aware that former colleagues and friends in the Scottish Green Party may be sorry - and even offended - by my decision to resign from the party and I apologise for not attempting to speak up within the party before coming to this decision.”  

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