Yousaf to set out government's priorities amid torrid start to tenure as FM

Humza Yousaf will deliver his first major policy statement at Holyrood since winning the SNP's leadership contest last month.

Humza Yousaf will set out the priorities for his premiership on Tuesday amid a torrid start to his tenure as leader of the SNP.

The First Minister will use a statement to the Scottish Parliament to set out what he wants his government to deliver over the next three years.

It will be Yousaf’s first major policy statement at Holyrood since he narrowly won the SNP leadership contest to succeed Nicola Sturgeon last month.

“These challenging times we live in call for a fresh vision of how we face them,” Yousaf said ahead of the speech.

The statement, which will be accompanied by a policy paper, is expected to fall under three key themes of equality, opportunity and community – building on the Scottish Government’s legislative agenda in the Programme for Government and the Bute House Agreement.

But it comes amid the backdrop of a police investigation into the SNP’s funding and finances and questions around transparency at the top of the party.

The first weeks of his leadership have seen the police raid of the SNP headquarters and home of former party chief executive Peter Murrell, which he shares with his wife Sturgeon.

Murrell was released without charge, pending further investigation.

Yousaf, who said he had “promised to lead Scotland in the interests of all our people”, said: “My cabinet has considered how we can build a better future for Scotland and the outcomes necessary to achieve that.

“Through a determined focus on reducing poverty and strengthening public services, seizing the opportunity to build a growing and green wellbeing economy through the net zero transition and supporting business, and reaffirming our commitment to equality, inclusion, and human rights in everything we do.

“We will do so using the powers of devolution to their maximum, whilst making the case that as an independent nation, we can do so much more to make Scotland a wealthier, fairer, and greener country.”

Since being made First Minister around three weeks ago, Yousaf said, his government had “tripled our support for households struggling with high energy bills with our £30m fuel insecurity fund, announced an additional £25m to help the north-east become the net zero capital of the world, and reinforced our commitment to supporting families with a £15m investment in free high-quality school age childcare”.

He said the measures would “make a real difference” and had come as a response “to the challenges presented by our ongoing recovery from the Covid pandemic and a cost-of-living crisis exacerbated by Brexit and the UK Government’s economic mismanagement, as well as climate change impacts and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”.

Yousaf has also confirmed the Scottish Government will go to court to challenge Westminster after it blocked controversial gender legislation that received cross-party support Holyrood.

He described the move by the UK Government as an “undemocratic veto”.

A judicial review is to be sought after Scottish secretary Alister Jack used a Section 35 order of the Scotland Act to prevent the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from gaining royal assent.

The UK Government argues the veto was used because the legislation, which simplifies the process trans people go through to obtain legal recognition in their preferred gender, impacted on UK-wide equality laws.

The move sets up another court clash between the two governments, after Scottish ministers last year lost a battle in the Supreme Court over whether Holyrood could stage its own independence referendum.

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