Labour push to unseat Scottish Government fails as no-confidence motion defeated

Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said the motion was “chaos for the sake of chaos” as his party voted against it

Labour push to unseat Scottish Government fails as no-confidence vote defeated at Holyrood Getty Images

Scottish Labour’s attempt to unseat the Scottish Government has failed after the Greens voted against a motion of no confidence.

Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said the motion was “chaos for the sake of chaos” as his party voted against it.

The motion was defeated by 70 votes to 58.

Mr Harvie and fellow Green co-leader Lorna Slater were sacked from the Government last week when Humza Yousaf dissolved the Bute House Agreement, setting off a political firestorm that forced the First Minister to resign on Monday.

If the motion had passed, the entire Scottish Government would have been forced to resign, with Holyrood given 28 days to elect a new first minister before an election was called.

Speaking in favour of the motion before the vote, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said Scotland is “crying out for change”.

Mr Sarwar – whose party has closed the gap in the polls with the SNP at Holyrood – said both the SNP and the Conservative Government at Westminster have been “unable to meet the ambitions, hopes and aspirations of the people”, adding: “That’s why our country is crying out for change.

“They want to get rid of this rotten Tory Government across the UK.

“And they want to move on from this dysfunctional and incompetent SNP Government here in Scotland.

“That’s why we need an election so the people can decide.”

But Mr Yousaf said he is proud of the SNP’s record in Government, telling MSPs he had not “heard a single positive idea” from Labour in his 13 months in the top job.

He added: “What I have heard is the deafening sound of principle after principle being thrown out of Anas Sarwar’s window. U-turning on the two child cap, U-turning on the devolution of employment law, U-turning on the devolution of drug law, U-turning on his support for Waspi women.

“The true vote of no confidence that the people of Scotland really need, and they deserve, is a vote of no confidence in this failing, miserable union that is holding Scotland back and inflicting damage on the people and the economy of this country.”

He said the pro-UK parties, in their “cosy Westminster alliance”, are “terrified of such a vote”.

But it was Mr Harvie who put the final nail in the coffin of the motion, when he said: “This proposal portrays the true motives of others: chaos for the sake of chaos.”

He added: “Let’s just consider what would happen if it passed; a month to seek another government, then an election around the time that voters around the country were heading off on their summer holidays, a new government formed perhaps by August – leaving just a little more than a year-and-a-half until the legally required dissolution for the 2026 election.”

In that time, Mr Harvie said, “urgently needed” measures – including the Housing Bill and a “reset” on climate change would be delayed.

Opposition members also used the opportunity to take aim at the potential next occupant of Bute House.

Mr Sarwar pointed to reports suggesting Kate Forbes could struggle to appoint ministers and described John Swinney as “the finance secretary that broke the public finances and the worst education secretary in the history of the Scottish Parliament”.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross – who was chided by the Presiding Officer for calling Mr Swinney “honest John” – said: “It looks like Nicola Sturgeon’s health secretary will either be replaced by Nicola Sturgeon’s deputy or Nicola Sturgeon’s finance secretary.

“What does this say about the current Scottish Government? Each of the individuals on the frontbench today, hand-picked by Humza Yousaf to run departments of this Government, have ruled themselves out.

“They don’t want to do it. Never mind the opposition having no confidence in this Government, it seems none of the Government ministers have confidence in themselves.”

The frontrunners, he said, represent “continuity”.

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