Salmond says Alba will make 'reasonable' demands to save Humza Yousaf

The former FM's only MSP at Holyrood, Ash Regan, appears to hold the decisive vote to getting Yousaf over the line.

Alex Salmond says Alba party will make ‘reasonable’ demands to save Humza Yousaf

Alex Salmond says the demands made by Alba to support Humza Yousaf in a vote of no confidence are “reasonable” and focus on what he calls “the people’s agenda”.

The former first minister’s only MSP at Holyrood, Ash Regan, now appears to hold the decisive vote in the no confidence motion put forward following the collapse of the Bute House Agreement on Thursday.

Yousaf has written letters to leaders of the opposition parties in an attempt to build bridges and establish how they can work with his minority Government.

The tight parliamentary arithmetic at the Scottish Parliament, where the SNP have 63 out of 128 voting MSPs, means former SNP leadership candidate Regan’s support may be needed to get Yousaf over the line.

In the case of a tied vote, the presiding officer would vote to retain the status quo.

Regan will meet Yousaf this week to set out the political price for her support.

Salmond says reports today of a deal hinging on an electoral pact are “total nonsense” – even so, SNP MP Stewart McDonald tweeted that a deal with Alba would go down like a “cup of cold sick”.

He told STV News: “We’ve not proposed that, so we’re not particularly bothered about the papers’ response to it.

Alba's Ash Regan could hold key to political future of Yousaf as FMSTV News

“However Ash Regan has set out an agenda about independence being a top priority of government, protection for women and girls and about returning to what we describe as ‘the people’s agenda’ – the sort of thing Scottish people want to see the Scottish Government concentrate on; housing, health, education and above all, jobs.

“We try our best to be very constructive. It’s a first class set of proposals, reasonable and not over the top in any sense.

“For the life of me, I would think that any SNP first minister worth his salt would see that as a very positive negotiating agenda.”

In October last year, Yousaf said Regan’s defection to Alba was “no great loss”.

Salmond said his colleague will “put aside any personal feelings” and “act in the interest of Scotland.”

“This is an important moment. I think Scotland is very fortunate to have someone like Ash Regan in such a position of responsibility.”

Salmond also said Yousaf’s decision to end Bute Agreement was a “change in direction that would be good for Scotland.”

It comes after the former First Minister told the Sunday Times a “top line” of any discussion with Yousaf would be the idea of reviving the Scotland United strategy – which would see a single pro-independence candidate stand in each Scottish constituency.

He said: “If you remember the Scotland United idea from last year which Humza just ignored, which was very popular with the Yes groups and amongst SNP supporters.

“It would be difficult to revive it in full now because obviously candidates have been selected [for the general election], but it could be revived in part, or there could be an understanding for the Scottish elections in two years’ time. So, a discussion along these lines, so it’s a menu of independence options.”

A spokesperson for Yousaf had dismissed the idea, saying: “This is fantasy. There is no possibility of the First Minister agreeing any deal like this with Alex Salmond.”

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - APRIL 25: Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf holds a press conference as he announces the SNP will withdraw from the Bute House Agreement, at Bute House on April 25, 2024 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Yousaf’s letters were sent to the Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Labour, the Scottish Greens, the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the Alba Party on Friday night.

In his letters, Yousaf emphasised that the Scottish Parliament has previous experience of minority administrations which had delivered benefits for “people, communities and businesses”.

He said: “I recognise the strong feelings in relation to the confidence debate our parliament is set to have next week.

“Notwithstanding that, I am writing to all Holyrood party groups to ask them to meet me next week, in separate meetings, to discuss their concerns and indeed priorities in a hopefully constructive spirit.”

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said it was a “humiliating and embarrassing letter”.

On Sunday, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton also rejected the offer of talks, telling Yousaf: “Your actions this past week have eroded entirely any remaining trust that you enjoyed across the chamber.

“They suggest that rather than being motivated by the national interest, you are presently motivated only by your own self-interest and by political survival.”

A Scottish Labour spokeswoman said: “We will respond to this letter in due course.

“However, it is clear that Humza Yousaf has lost the confidence of Parliament and the public. There is nothing he can do to change Scottish Labour, or the public’s, mind about that.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said:

“As the First Minister has said, over the past year he is proud to have laid the foundations of his vision for Scotland.

“The Scottish Government is investing record amounts in our NHS – ensuring it can employ record numbers of staff, deliver the best performing A&E units in the UK.

“Scotland is the only part of the UK to avoid pay-related strike action in our NHS.

“The Scottish Government has delivered a council tax freeze this year in every local authority – helping families where we can with the cost of living.

“Scottish Ministers have removed peak fares on our railways.

“And this month the government approved plans for Europe’s largest floating offshore windfarm.

“Average earnings in Scotland are forecast to grow faster than the rest of the UK.

“Attainment is at a record high, and record numbers of students from deprived areas are entering university.

“And Scottish Government policies are lifting an estimated 100,000 children out of poverty this year.”

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