The First Minister has insisted he retains “full confidence” in an SNP MSP who reportedly insulted members of her own government in leaked WhatsApp messages.
Drugs and alcohol policy minister Elena Whitham apologised after a string of messages was revealed by the Daily Record newspaper, where she expressed disdain for some senior members from her own party, the Tories and the royal family.
The MSP, who represents Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, labelled Scotland’s deputy first minister Shona Robison a “cold fish”, Conservative MSP Brian Whittle a “prick”, and said the late Queen’s Jubilee was “royalist bollocks”.
Whitham later responded to the Daily Record’s story, posting on Twitter: “These comments were not acceptable and I apologise sincerely.”
Humza Yousaf Ms Whitham was right to apologise.
Speaking to reporters at Peterhead Power Station in Aberdeenshire on Tuesday, he said: “It was absolutely right that Elena apologised.
“These comments were obviously made in private and then leaked, but nonetheless she was right to apologise, and I spoke to Elena yesterday and she’s right to apologise to her colleagues that were affected.
“I have absolute full confidence in Elena. She’s doing an excellent job in a really challenging portfolio.
“We all know the scale of Scotland’s drug deaths at the moment.
“It’s a national mission for us to bring those drugs deaths down considerably and she’s doing a great job.
“We saw in the last couple of weeks, of course, she laid out our drug law reform proposals which got wide praise, not just domestically, but right across the world too.”
Yousaf was then asked if he is concerned for the SNP, with recent controversies and several of its politicians stating they will not stand at the next election.
He said: “Not in the slightest, because every election cycle we tend to get people who retire, who will decide to do other things, who will move on.
“We obviously have a deadline for when MPs need to tell us if they’re going to stand or not stand so we can get on with the selection process, and that deadline very much is looming.
“So that’s why we’re hearing about MSPs deciding to stand down.
“But what I can tell you about every single one of those SNP MPs who will be standing down, and they’ve made a fantastic contribution to our party, to our cause, is they will continue to contribute to our party and to our cause, because I know each and every one of them will continue to advance the cause of independence whether they’re MPs or not.”