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by Kirsteen Paterson
25 April 2024
Greens accuse SNP of 'political cowardice' as Bute House Agreement is axed

Lorna Slater, co-leader of the Scottish Green Party | Alamy

Greens accuse SNP of 'political cowardice' as Bute House Agreement is axed

Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater has accused the SNP of "selling out future generations" in a furious response to the ending of the Bute House Agreement (BHA).

The announcement has not yet been formally made by the First Minister, who is preparing for an imminent press conference at Bute House, where the power-sharing deal was announced by the Greens and Nicola Sturgeon two years ago.

Slater and fellow Green co-leader Patrick Harvie were silent as they walked out of an 8.30am cabinet meeting there earlier today.

Now Slater has accused Humza Yousaf's SNP of "an act of political cowardice", accusing the party of "selling out future generations to appease the most reactionary forces in the country".

Claiming "voters deserve better", 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."

The move comes as the Scottish Greens prepared for an extraordinary general meeting called to allow the membership to vote on the continuation of the BHA.

That followed anger from the Rainbow Greens wing of the party over the decision by Scottish health boards to suspend the prescription of puberty blockers to new patients under the age of 18.

And it came after government climate targets were scrapped.

No date for the EGM had yet been made public and Yousaf has previously described the BHA as being "worth its weight in gold".

However, SNP backbenchers including Fergus Ewing and Kenneth Gibson have called for a rethink of the deal in the wake of unsuccessful attempts to bring in reforms including the Deposit Return Scheme, Highly-Protected Marine Areas and the Gender Recognition Reform Act.

Slater said: "In just a few weeks time our own members were to have a democratic say on endorsing the co-operation agreement. 

"We are confident they would have supported us in continuing our work for Scotland, as they have done at every turn. 

"Neither they nor SNP members will have that opportunity. Instead, the most reactionary and backwards-looking forces within the first minister’s party have forced him to do the opposite of what he himself had said was in Scotland’s best interests. 

"By contrast we as co-leaders of the Scottish Greens were prepared to put our own political careers on the line with our members, to defend our achievements in government, despite enduring all that SNP backbenchers and others threw against us. 

"What a pity he didn’t have the fortitude or the bravery to do the same. If they can’t stand up to members of their own party, how can anyone expect them to stand up to the UK Government at Westminster and defend the interests of Scotland?"

She went on: "We want, we demand, a fairer greener Scotland. We believed the Bute House Agreement would speed up that process, only to be let down by the SNP time and time again - on council tax, on oil and gas, on 2030  and most obviously, again today. 

"I appeal to those SNP members who do care about climate, trans rights, independence and our country to consider if they are in the right party for their values, or if their home should be with us as we prepare to step up our defence of the planet in opposition. 

"Finally, to all those who will feel hurt and betrayed today, know this: our resolve is absolute, we will not abandon you as the SNP have, we will fight for your future with every breath we take."

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