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Scottish Government 'hostile to Conservatives', Humza Yousaf says

Scottish Government 'hostile to Conservatives', Humza Yousaf says

First Minister Humza Yousaf has said the Scottish Government is “hostile to Conservatives” following criticism from Scottish Secretary Alister Jack.

In an interview with Holyrood magazine, Jack described the SNP-Green administration as “hostile” and suggested the Scotland Act which underpins devolution was too “loosely written”.

He said the first-ever first minister, Donald Dewar, would have written a “different” Scotland Act “knowing what we know now, as opposed to what they thought then”.

And, backing his former boss Boris Johnson, Jack said the decisions taken by the ex-PM “will serve Scotland well for decades”.

Asked about Jack's comments after unveiling the fourth and latest Scottish Government position paper on independence, Yousaf said his administration was “hostile to unelected Conservative governments, and we should be because they have done nothing but undermine and erode our Scottish Parliament and devolution”. 

He went on: “I'm afraid I do not trust the Conservatives not to [through] any scorched earth policy, destroy devolution in its entirety. I'm very hostile to that idea. 

“In terms of Boris Johnson, I think Alister Jack is disconnected to reality, is the only thing that I can say about his comments. People are rightly incandescent at the behaviour of Boris Johnson and the Conservatives during lockdown while they adhered to the rules [with] much personal sacrifice and cost and therefore anybody who is defending Boris Johnson, including the Cabinet's man in Scotland Alister Jack, then they will, I think, face the wrath of Scottish people and they should be prepared to do so at the ballot box. 

“Alister Jack, I don't think is standing again. He's said openly that he will not be seeking re-election and that probably is a good thing for Scotland.”

MPs are expected to vote on whether to back sanctions for Johnson, as recommended by the Privileges Committee, later.

A spokesperson has said Jack will abstain from that vote. 

At a press conference in Glasgow, Yousaf said: “I've been on the record that I think that every single Scottish MP must vote to sanction Boris Johnson. I think those that choose to turn up to the vote and abstain or indeed go against the sanction, any Scottish Tory MP who does that is betraying the people that they represent.

“Boris Johnson, and the Conservative party more generally, have shown flagrant disregard for rules that many of us - most of us - of course, adhered to. We must remember that. We saw people literally missing funerals of loved ones, not being able to say goodbye while they partied at Conservative headquarters. That's a betrayal of people's trust and any Scottish Tory MP that is going to abstain or not vote to sanction Boris Johnson, they rightly will face the wrath of the Scottish people at the ballot box.”

The comments came at the launch of the latest paper in the 'Building a New Scotland' series, which is the first to be published since Nicola Sturgeon left office.

It argues that drafting a written constitution for an independent state would allow the public to “shape the new country” and help it “take on the challenges of the future”.

However, recognition of the NHS in Scotland, giving the right to free healthcare, would be included under Scottish Government plans, as would the right to strike, a ban on nuclear weapons and the right to an "adequate standard of living" as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Yousaf said: “Successive UK governments have taken Scotland in the wrong direction and with independence we would radically shift where power lies and put it back in the hands of the people who live in Scotland.

“The constitution would set out how democracy, rights and equality would be at the heart of everything we do as an independent nation.”

The UK's nuclear arsenal is currently based near Helensburgh and peace campaigners have long opposed the use of road convoys to carry hazardous materials to HMNB Naval Base Clyde.

Yousaf said the proposals would “ban nuclear weapons from an independent Scotland”, adding: “With rights in Scotland under threat as never before, because of the actions of the UK Government, and the Scottish Parliament being undermined, independence has never been more urgent or essential.”

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