Lorna Slater no-confidence motion voted down by 68 votes to 55

Votes were made along party lines, however the SNP’s Fergus Ewing rebelled and voted in favour.

Lorna Slater no-confidence motion voted down by 68 votes to 55 PA Ready

Lorna Slater has survived a vote of no confidence in her position as circular economy minister, with opposition attempts to oust her failing at Holyrood.

On Tuesday evening, MSPs voted down the motion by 68 votes to 55.

Votes were made along party lines, however the SNP’s Fergus Ewing rebelled and voted in favour.

The Conservatives had tabled the motion following the latest delay to the deposit return scheme (DRS) and the collapse of its administrator, Circularity Scotland.

Slater, who blamed Westminster for the delay and the company entering administration, dismissed the opposition bid as a “shameless political stunt”.

The no confidence motion was lodged by Liam Kerr and supported by his Conservative colleagues, as well as Labour and the Lib Dems.

Speaking in the debating chamber, Kerr said he did not doubt Slater’s “integrity” or that she was trying to do her best in a “crucial” brief.

However he said that she had only applied for an exclusion from the UK Internal Market Act at the “11th hour”, something that quickly sparked an intervention from the Greens’ Ross Greer.

Listing points where he felt she had failed in the implementation of the DRS, Kerr continued: “These are significant errors of judgement in a portfolio which we all want – no, need to succeed.”

Ahead of the vote, Kerr had said: “We feel we have no option but to bring this motion forward, because Lorna Slater has demonstrated that she is out of her depth as a minister.”

The UK Government has rejected Slater’s explanation for why Circularity Scotland collapsed, saying discussions on DRS could have continued.

Humza Yousaf responded to Kerr’s points in the debating chamber.

The First Minister said it was “extraordinary” that the Conservatives had tabled the motion, saying Slater did not “shirk her responsibilities”.

He blamed the UK Government for the collapse of Circularity Scotland, saying: “This is not a result of the Scottish Government’s actions.

“Responsibility lies solely and squarely with a UK Government whose aim it has been from the very beginning to sabotage this scheme.”

He also praised Slater’s “great efforts” on the government’s biodiversity initiatives.

Yousaf said the Conservatives had organised the “stunt” to distract from the sanctions imposed on Boris Johnson for lockdown breaches.

Slater’s Green colleague Mark Ruskell also rose to say that Holyrood needed “more Lorna Slaters”.

Earlier, Slater said the Tories were trying to distract from their own party’s failings.

She said: “This is a shameless political stunt from a Tory party that holds Scotland and our democracy in contempt.

“They can see that with Scottish Greens in government we are building a fairer, greener and better Scotland, and they don’t like it one bit.

“We are here to stay, and will continue to deliver the change that is so vital.

“When the Tories destroyed Scotland’s deposit return scheme, they destroyed jobs, they destroyed environmental progress, and they undermined Scotland’s Parliament.”

Ewing, a vocal critic of the DRS, later issued a statement on why he voted the way he did.

He said: “The minister with responsibility for the scheme does not enjoy the confidence of business.

“I have therefore voted today to seek a new minister appointed to take over this troubled matter to deal with the huge fallout of numerous compensation claims and reconsider afresh how best to achieve recycling objectives.”

An SNP spokesperson said: “We are pleased to have won this vote convincingly – one SNP MSP not abiding by the whip in this instance is an internal party matter, which will be considered by the chief whip in due course.”

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