Humza Yousaf says SNP won't back Labour plans to extend windfall tax

The FM accused Labour of throwing north east workers 'on the scrap heap' under their plans for a 'proper' windfall tax.

The First Minister has said his party will not back the proposals for extending the windfall tax to oil and gas companies.

Humza Yousaf accused Labour of throwing north-east workers “on the scrap heap” under their plans for a “proper” windfall tax which would see the energy profits levy for North Sea companies rising to 78%.

Mr Yousaf said there is an “extreme anger” in the north-east of Scotland following the announcement earlier this month.

In a speech in Aberdeen, the First Minister said: “That is a source, rightly, of extreme anger.

“That anger reached new levels last week when Labour announced their plans to raid the north-east energy industry, to the cost of some 100,000 jobs to the sector, all while dumping their plans to invest in the green economy.”

He added: “Let’s be abundantly clear. The SNP believes in a just transition.

“There is no justice in a transition that throws north-east workers on the scrap heap.

“The SNP will not let the north-east go the way that coal and mining towns went under Thatcher – that is exactly what Labour is threatening to do.”

He went on to say that his party will oppose Labour’s tax plans for the sector, stating: “You cannot deliver a just transition from oil and gas for the people and businesses that rely on it if you squeeze the life out of the sector overnight.”

Mr Yousaf said the SNP will oppose “Labour’s aggressive tax plans for the sector”, describing them as a bid to plug a financial black hole caused by the party’s intention to build new nuclear plants.

He added: “Now, don’t get me wrong. We support a windfall tax in order to protect people during a cost-of-living crisis but Labour’s plans to increase this to play for new nuclear power plants in England is plain wrong and will cost tens of thousands, if not more, jobs in the north-east.”

He also took aim at Sir Keir, accusing the UK Labour leader of “doubling down on austerity” with his plans, should the party win the upcoming general election.

Mr Yousaf later told journalists he favoured maintaining the windfall tax at the current 75% level.

Mr Yousaf said: “Labour’s fiscal rules are nothing more than a defence against Tory attacks. But in effect they bind Labour to Tory austerity.

“Westminster is so broken, so skewed to the right, that even Labour know they can’t win unless they promise to be just as right wing as the Conservatives.

“The wolf hasn’t even bothered to put on the sheep’s clothing. It’s just a stuck on a red rosette.”

The First Minister told industry leaders that Labour’s plans would “raid the north-east energy industry”, to a loss of some 100,000 jobs.

The First Minister also took aim at the Conversatives accusing them of a “chronic underinvestment and crippling austerity”.

He went to say: “Two parties committed to austerity, to Brexit, to brutal welfare cuts.

“And now two parties throwing away the golden economic opportunity of the green energy revolution. Repeating the mistakes of the past.

“The fact is that the Westminster consensus is squeezing the life out of Scotland’s economy.”

Following the announcement of Labour’s windfall tax, Offshore Energies UK, the trade body for the sector, warned that 42,000 jobs would go and £26bn of economic value would be lost to the UK.

OEUK chief executive David Whitehouse said: “It will undermine the very industry which can and must play a critical role in delivering a homegrown energy transition.  

“We’ve always said the path to net zero is through working together between government, business, and people, ensuring no individual, community or sector is left behind – that’s not what we’ve had from Labour.”

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “Humza Yousaf is displaying breath-taking hypocrisy masquerading as a friend of Scotland’s oil and gas industry when he and the SNP have abandoned it at every opportunity.

“The SNP have a long-standing ‘presumption against’ policy on all new oil and gas licences, they oppose Rosebank, they were the first party to call for a windfall tax and it’s only a few months since Humza Yousaf was proclaiming the end of the industry in a speech in New York.

“Labour’s plans for oil and gas would be catastrophic for North-East communities, the wider Scottish economy and our energy security – but the SNP are equally committed to turning off the taps in the North Sea straight away.”

“Humza Yousaf must think people in the North-East are buttoned up the back if they’re to believe the SNP is a friend of the oil and gas industry, when his partnership with the extremist Greens is predicated on shutting it down.

“The reality – as on so many other issues – is that you can barely put a cigarette paper between Labour and the SNP on this.

“Their position is economically and environmentally illiterate because it would decimate jobs and communities while increasing our reliance on imported fossil fuels with a bigger carbon footprint.

“The Scottish Conservatives are the only party standing up for this crucial industry.”

Scottish Labour has been contacted for comment.

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