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by Louise Wilson
19 February 2024
Humza Yousaf: Labour ‘raiding’ Scottish oil and gas sector

The SNP leader was making a speech alongside Westminster leader Stephen Flynn MP in Aberdeen | Alamy

Humza Yousaf: Labour ‘raiding’ Scottish oil and gas sector

Humza Yousaf has accused the Labour Party of trying to “raid” the oil and gas sector in Scotland.

The first minister, on a campaign visit to Aberdeen, said Labour’s plan to increase the windfall tax on firms risked 100,000 jobs.

He also said the party was “dumping” plans to support the sector with a just transition to a net zero economy.

But Scottish Labour has hit back, suggesting Yousaf's own plans were "completely incoherent" and the SNP "has decided to side with the energy giants".

The comments come after Keir Starmer confirmed a U-turn on his party’s pledge to spend £28bn a year on green investment.

The Labour leader blamed the scaling back of the plans on the economic backdrop, saying sticking to the figure would be “irresponsible”.

Instead the party has committed to spending £4.7bn per year in green industries. It also set out its plan to increase the rate of the windfall tax from 75 per cent to 78 per cent, and extend it to 2029.

Industry body OEUK warned the tax would “wipe out” £26bn from the economy and threaten 42,000 jobs.

Yousaf, whose party backed the establishment of the windfall tax in 2022, said he would “oppose Labour’s aggressive tax plans for the sector”.

He added: “We support a windfall tax but Labour’s plans to increase this to pay for nuclear energy power plants in England is plain wrong and will cost tens of thousands of jobs.”

The SNP leader was making a speech alongside Westminster leader Stephen Flynn MP in a bid to shore up support in the region ahead of the general election later this year.

He warned that both Labour and the Conservatives’ approach was “squeezing the life out of Scotland’s economy”, adding that the nation needed to “grasp” the opportunity of a “green energy revolution” by backing Scottish independence.

He said: “Our oil and gas industry has been good for Scotland. It supports hundreds of thousands of well-paid jobs, directly and through the supply chain.
“We will not abandon the industry, far from it. We are willing partners who want to work with the industry to move, at pace, in the just transition to net zero.”

Yousaf also said Keir Starmer had “chosen to double down on austerity” and the Labour’s “fiscal rules” amounted to the party being bound to Conservative spending plans.

Labour's shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said the SNP has performed a "dizzying series of U-turns" on a windfall tax. 

He said: "It beggars belief that Humza Yousaf thinks that a person earning more than £28,500 deserves to pay more tax but energy giants earning billions in profits from soaring bills should pay less.... The SNP can no longer pretend they’re on the side of working people."

The Scottish Conservatives accused Yousaf of “breathtaking hypocrisy” over the intervention, saying the Scottish Government was hostile to oil and gas.

Leader Douglas Ross said: “The SNP have a long-standing ‘presumption against’ policy on all new oil and gas licences, they oppose Rosebank, they were the first party to call for a windfall tax and it’s only a few months since Humza Yousaf was proclaiming the end of the industry in a speech in New York.

“Labour’s plans for oil and gas would be catastrophic for north-east communities, the wider Scottish economy and our energy security – but the SNP are equally committed to turning off the taps in the North Sea straight away.

“Humza Yousaf must think people in the north-east are buttoned up the back if they’re to believe the SNP is a friend of the oil and gas industry, when his partnership with the extremist Greens is predicated on shutting it down.”

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