First Minister calls SNP-Green deal 'genuinely groundbreaking' and independence mandate 'undeniable'
The First Minister has described a cooperation agreement between the SNP and the Greens as "genuinely groundbreaking" as she revealed details of the deal in the Scottish Parliament.
Speaking after the agreement was endorsed by the membership of both parties, Nicola Sturgeon said it was "a leap of faith for both parties" but one they had taken willingly.
The First Minister also said it confirmed their intention to give people in Scotland the choice of independence, describing their mandate as "undeniable".
The deal will see Scottish Green co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater take up junior ministerial roles after their appointments were formally approved by parliament.
However, as part of that the Greens will no longer be entitled to a leader’s question at FMQs and the party's short money will be reduced by £15,687.61.
Sturgeon said in her statement this afternoon: "The SNP and the Scottish Greens, albeit joining together in government, are and will remain distinct entities with different identities and points of view.
"But this agreement is founded on shared convictions and common principles. It is based, above all, on our recognition that the times we are living through render a business as usual approach simply not good enough."
The First Minister cited "significant challenges" facing Scotland, such as a recent surge in coronavirus cases, the economic and social recovery from the pandemic, the climate crisis and the consequences of Brexit.
She said the parliament should be defended against "UK Government power grabs", adding: "And as we do so, [we must] recognise that the best way [of] not just protecting this parliament from Westminster but also equipping it with the full powers it needs to build a fairer, more prosperous country, is to make this parliament, independent of Westminster."
While the deal does not represent a full coalition, it sets out areas of cooperation, including collaboration on the climate emergency, economic recovery, child poverty, the natural environment, energy and the constitution.
Sturgeon added: "Finally, as I indicated earlier, this agreement does confirm our intention to give people in Scotland the choice of independence.
"The mandate for that is undeniable. Between us, the SNP and the Greens won 72 of the 129 seats in this parliament, and each one of us was elected on a clear commitment to an independence referendum.
"But just as the mandate is undeniable, the reason for a referendum is just as important.
"As we emerge from this pandemic, the kind of country and society that Scotland is now and becomes in future and the decisions that will shape our society and economy and our place in the world must be determined democratically here in Scotland, and not imposed upon us, so often against our will, by government at Westminster."
Responding to Sturgeon's statement, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: "This is a nationalist coalition with one overriding goal, separating Scotland from the United Kingdom.
"Yet again, a divisive referendum has come first, as it always does with this government."
Anas Sarwar, leader of Scottish Labour, said the agreement did not represent a "clean start".
He said: "This coalition agreement, for that is what it is, is just formalising the agreement in the last parliament where Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP hammer our public services with cuts and the Greens simply nod it through.
"Cut through the spin and the now typical boasts of historic moments. This is no new government. This is not a clean start. This is a deal that is more about the constitution, not the climate."