Humza Yousaf: I won't resign and I'll fight and win no-confidence votes

First Minister says he is 'confident' he won't be ousted as he fights for his political survival.

Key Points
  • Humza Yousaf pledges to carry on as Scotland First Minister, saying he is confident he can ‘fight’ and ‘win’ attempts to oust him
  • Scottish Labour announces motion of no-confidence in Government that could force the FM and the entire cabinet to resign
  • Scottish Tories – the second largest party in Holyrood – say they’ll back Labour’s motion
  • Conservatives already announced plans to table a separate no-confidence motion against Yousaf which is backed by Labour, LibDems and Greens
  • Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie says it’s ‘pretty clear’ Yousaf doesn’t have the confidence of MSPs following his ‘reckless and damaging decision’
  • Yousaf’s fate could hang in the balance of one MSP – his former SNP leadership rival and now-Alba defector Ash Regan

Humza Yousaf has said he will not resign as Scotland’s First Minister as he fights for his political survival amid multiple attempts to oust him.

The SNP leader pledged to carry on as he faces two no-confidence votes against him and his government.

He was due to make a speech on Scottish independence at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow on Friday afternoon but pulled out just hours before it was due to be held.

He instead went to Dundee where he announced £80m in funding for affordable housing.

“I absolutely intend to fight that vote of no-confidence,” he told STV News.

“Why? Because the people of Scotland elected the SNP as the largest party in the Scottish Parliament so all this political game-playing the opposition are doing, I’m going to leave it to them.

“I’m out here announcing £80m for affordable housing. That’s the priorities of the people that I’m focusing on.

“But no I won’t be resigning, we’ll be fighting that vote of no-confidence and I think we’ll win.”

The Alba Party will likely cast the deciding vote in a no-confidence vote against Humza Yousaf.STV News

Yousaf said he had reached out to opposition parties to try and make his minority government work and added that he is “confident” he can win.

It comes after senior SNP figures told STV News the FM was considering his position.

On Friday, Scottish Labour revealed it would lodge a motion of no-confidence against the Scottish Government in a move that could force the entire cabinet to resign if it’s passed.

Party leader Anas Sarwar said it’s a matter of “when, not if, Humza Yousaf will step down as First Minister”.

@stvnews Labour will lodge a vote of no-confidence against the Scottish Government in a move that could force the entire Cabinet to resign if passed. It’s the second vote of no-confidence to be announced this week after the Scottish Tories said they would submit one against Humza Yousaf. Unlike the Tory motion though, Labour’s would be binding and would force Yousaf and all his ministers to quit. At that point, Holyrood would have 28 days to elect a new FM or an election would be held. Read more on the STV News website. #politics #scottishpolitics #anassarwar #labour #scottishlabour #firstminister #humzayousaf ♬ original sound – STV News

It’s the second no-confidence announcement this week after the Scottish Conservatives said they would lodge a motion against Yousaf.

The Scottish Greens, Labour and the LibDems have all said they back ousting the First Minister.

It means Yousaf’s fate could hang in the balance of a single MSP – his former leadership rival and Alba defector Ash Regan.

The politician has written to the First Minister with a list of demands that she says will ensure her support if met.

While the Tory motion against Yousaf has broad political support outside of the SNP, the Labour motion only has the support of the Tories and the LibDems – which falls short of a majority.

Mark Ruskell suggested his party wouldn’t back it, with the Green MSP saying: “Labour clearly don’t want this motion to pass.

“It was the poor judgement of Humza in ending the Bute House Agreement that is in question, not the record of the SNP/Green Government.”

Scottish Greens co-leader Harvie said it is “pretty clear” Yousaf is not able to unite the Scottish Parliament following the collapse of the Bute House Agreement.

Harvie said it was now up to the SNP to find a suitable leader.

He said: “Very clearly, he doesn’t have the confidence of parliament I think that’s going to be clear. We said very clearly the responsibility of the decision is on him. He needs to bear the consequences of that reckless and damaging decision.

“I think it’s pretty clear he’s not the person who is going to be able to bring together a majority of parliament.”

Asked if there was any way back for Yousaf in terms of working with the Greens, he said the First Minister had “broken trust”, adding: “He still hasn’t really given any clarity on why he made such a dramatic U-turn and broken a promise on which he was elected as First Minister.

“So it’s very difficult to see how you can have a conversation that leads to a constructive outcome on the basis of that lack of trust.”

Why are opposition parties trying to oust Humza Yousaf?

On Thursday, Yousaf announced that he had ended the historic Scottish Government’s power-sharing agreement with the Greens.

The First Minister sacked Green co-leaders and government ministers Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater that morning, prompting fury within the party.

At a press conference later that day, the Greens – which had been in government for nearly three years with the SNP – described Yousaf as “weak and thoroughly hopeless”, accusing him of “betrayal” and “political cowardice”.

Green members were due to vote on whether to end the Bute Agreement within weeks following the Scottish Government scrapping its climate change targets and the NHS’s decision to pause puberty blockers for new patients.

At First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross revealed he would be submitting a motion of no-confidence in the SNP leader.

Harvie told STV News he would join opposition parties in voting against Yousaf.

The vote would be non-binding but could send a powerful political message and damage the FM’s ability to lead.

Scottish Labour announced on Friday that they would submit a motion of no-confidence against the Scottish Government. That motion would be binding and, if passed, would force Yousaf and the entire cabinet out of office.

But the Greens have suggested they won’t back it so it could fail.

Who is Ash Regan and what does she want from Humza Yousaf?

Former SNP leadership rival and Alba defector Ash Regan could determine Humza Yousaf's fate.Getty Images

Ash Regan is a former SNP minister for community safety who quit her role over her opposition to the Scottish Government’s gender reforms in 2022.

She ran for the SNP leadership in March 2023 but came last after Kate Forbes and Yousaf.

She later left the SNP and joined Alba – a party created and led by former SNP leader and first minister Alex Salmond.

She has been critical of the SNP’s independence strategy as well as its policies on gender self-ID.

When the Greens announced they would vote to oust Yousaf, Alba was the only party not to declare its stance.

Speaking to STV News, Regan said she had not decided whether to vote for or against her former leadership opponent.

She said that would depend on his answers to her demands.

She has now written to the FM to demand progress on furthering the cause of independence, defending the rights of women and children and “bringing back competent government”.

In a separate letter to Alba Party members, Regan has suggested investment in the Grangemouth refinery could be a price of her support for Yousaf in the upcoming confidence vote.

Regan said investment in the refinery – due to shut as early as next year and shift to an import and export terminal – would be a key demand for her support for Yousaf.

Her party have launched a campaign to sustain jobs at the refinery.

“A sign of good faith would be a significant Government investment, reinforcing the campaign to save the Grangemouth refinery from closure,” she said.

“I am requesting the undertaking to produce such an initiative in the early course.

“I am hopeful that the First Minister will commit to such an initiative in the near future as a sign of our shared dedication to Scotland’s welfare.”

Speaking to STV News, former first minister and now Alba Party leader Alex Salmond said the Scottish Government must focus on an “agenda that’s meaningful to people”.

He said “identity politics has taken the Scottish Government up the highways and byways recently” and urged ministers to “concentrate on things that really matter and can unite the country”.

What is the Bute House Agreement?

In 2021, then-first minister Nicola Sturgeon signed a power-sharing deal with the Scottish Greens.

The Bute House Agreement meant the SNP and Greens agreed to commit to a raft of policies, from the environment to gender reforms and housing.

Harvie, the longest-serving Green MSP, became minister for zero carbon buildings, active travel and tenants’ rights while his co-leader Lorna Slater became minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity.

It remains the only time Green politicians have been in government in the UK.

Patrick Harvie, Nicola Sturgeon and Lorna Slater following the signing of the Bute House Agreement.Scottish Government

The agreement had critics within both parties – particularly the SNP – but was broadly supported by party members, who overwhelmingly backed it.

At last year’s SNP leadership election, Yousaf vowed to continue the partnership, saying it was “worth its weight in gold”.

Just last week, he said there was “great value” in it.

What happens next?

Senior SNP sources told STV News that the First Minister is considering his position – but a spokesperson for him said he won’t resign on Friday.

Yousaf confirmed later that day that he would fight to retain his role at the top of Scottish politics.

Two no-confidence motions – one against Yousaf and one against the Government – are expected sometime next week.

If a majority of MSPs support the Tory motion against Yousaf he will face intense pressure to resign. The vote is non-binding so he doesn’t have to but it would make it much harder for him to govern.

STV News

If he does resign as First Minister he would also resign as SNP leader, sparking a fresh leadership contest.

Nicola Sturgeon announced her intention to step down as FM on February 15 last year and by March 27 Yousaf had won the SNP leadership election.

He was voted in by MSPs on March 28 and by 29 was officially sworn in as Scotland’s leader.

If Labour’s motion against the Scottish Government passes, the entire cabinet – including the First Minister – would be forced to resign.

Parliament would have to pick a leader within 28 or Holyrood would be dissolved and an election would be called.

In that case, Scots would likely have both a UK general election and Scottish Parliamentary election within months of each other.

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