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by Louise Wilson
22 June 2023
Humza Yousaf accused of 'sacrificing' Fergus Ewing to protect Lorna Slater

Humza Yousaf accused of 'sacrificing' Fergus Ewing to protect Lorna Slater

Humza Yousaf has been accused of “sacrificing” a senior backbencher to save Green minister Lorna Slater.

At FMQs, the first minister refused to confirm whether Fergus Ewing would lose the SNP whip.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross referenced reports about Ewing after he voted against his party in the confidence vote against DRS minister Lorna Slater earlier this week.

He said: “For Green support, he’s sacrificing Fergus Ewing, the son of Winnie Ewing, one of the SNP’s most famous representatives. We’ve gone from ‘stop the world, the SNP wants to get on’ to ‘stop the SNP, Fergus Ewing is getting off’.

“Why is he considering losing a party stalwart who is standing up for Scottish businesses while keeping an incompetent Green minister?”

Ewing said in a statement on Tuesday night that Slater “does not enjoy the confidence of business” after her stewardship of the now-delayed deposit return scheme.

“I have therefore voted today to see a new minister appointed to take over this troubled matter to deal with the huge fallout of numerous compensation claims and reconsider afresh how best to achieve recycling objectives,” he said.

The former SNP minister has repeatedly been at odds with his party in recent months over DRS, energy policy, and gender recognition reforms.

Ross accused Yousaf “dancing to the tune of an extremist party” and of having “abandoned rural Scotland”.

Yousaf said his party was working with the Greens to tackle climate change.

He added the Tories had “opposed every single measure” brought by his government to tackle the issue, suggesting the party was “morphing into climate change deniers”.

The first minister also accused Labour of using the north east as a “cash cow”.

Anas Sarwar had urged the FM to back his party's recently published green energy plan. The Scottish Labour leader said it would provide “more jobs”, “lower bills” and “greater energy security”.

Keir Starmer launched the strategy earlier this week, which include a pledge to create a publicly owned energy company to be headquartered in Scotland.

Yousaf, at FMQs, said that “of course” such a body would be in Scotland “because we have the majority of renewables and natural resources”, but this was “crumbs off the table”.

He said Labour “view our north east as a cash cow”, adding: “They want to take money from the north east in order to be able to fund tax freezes for the rest of the UK. The difference between Anas Sarwar and I, is I want to keep the profit that is made and invest it in communities here in Scotland, while he wants to squander it as successive UK governments have continued to do.”

 

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