Humza Yousaf faces no-confidence vote after 'terminating' Bute House Agreement

Labour and LibDems commit to Tory motion while Greens refuse to say if they will back Scotland's First Minister.

Latest updates
  • Humza Yousaf’s fate hangs on single MSP as Greens will vote to oust First Minister
  • Yousaf faces no-confidence vote after ‘terminating’ power-sharing deal with Scottish Greens
  • Yousaf said the Bute House Agreement had ‘served its purpose’ and it was in the best interests of the Scottish people to ‘pursue a different arrangement’
  • The Scottish Greens attacked the First Minister as ‘weak and thoroughly hopeless’ saying he ‘can’t be trusted’
  • Greens co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater have been kicked out of government
  • The SNP will need to form a minority government as it lacks a majority of MSPs at Holyrood

The Scottish Tories will lodge a motion of no confidence in Humza Yousaf following the First Minister’s decision to end his party’s power-sharing agreement with the Greens.

Speaking at a rowdy First Minister’s Questions, Conservative leader Douglas Ross claimed the ditching of the Bute House Agreement marked the “beginning of the end” for a “lame duck” FM.

The SNP leader confirmed on Thursday that he would form a minority government.

The party was previously protected from no-confidence votes because their deal with the Greens gave them a majority at Holyrood.

A no-confidence motion is a motion that says some MSPs do not have confidence in a government minister, the First Minister, or all Scottish ministers.

If the motion gets support from 25 MSPs the Parliamentary Bureau schedules it for debate.

The debate could happen as early as next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Will Labour back the no-confidence vote?

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said his party has no confidence in Yousaf, saying an election should be called in Scotland.

“We will make it really clear if any vote comes up to this parliament that we have no confidence in Humza Yousaf,” he told STV News.

@stvnews 'Humza Yousaf may have dumped the Greens, the people of Scotland may just dump Humza Yousaf'. Jackie Baillie responds to the end of the power-sharing deal between SNP and Greens. Read more on the STV News website. #stv #stvnews #jackiebaillie #labour #scottishlabour #greens #snp #butehouseagreement #scottishpolitics #politics ♬ original sound – STV News

Will the Liberal Democrats back the no-confidence vote?

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader said he would back the Tory motion.

He told STV News: “The Liberal Democrats will absolutely vote for the no-confidence motion.”

Will the Scottish Greens back the no-confidence vote?

“Humza Yousaf has signalled that when it comes to political cooperation, he can no longer be trusted”

Lorna Slater, Scottish Greens co-leader

The Scottish Greens have refused to say whether they would vote for or against Yousaf.

Asked if she would side with the Tory motion, Green MSP Maggie Chapman said: “No comment”.

Will Alba back the no-confidence vote?

Ash Regan, Alba’s only MSP, suggested she could go either way on a confidence vote against Yousaf.

“I’ll be writing to Humza today and I’ll be asking him to set out what he’s going to do on independence, how he is going to defend women’s rights, how he’s going to bring back competence to the Scottish Government and it will depend on that.”

If she, alongside Labour, the LibDems, Tories and Greens, vote for it the motion would pass with a simple majority of 65.

The SNP has 63 MSPs in Holyrood while Alison Johnstone – who was elected as a Green MSP – is now the presiding officer.

How does a minority government work?

Minority governments are not unusual in Scotland and have been the norm for much of the Scottish Parliament’s history.

Up until 2011 when the SNP won 69 of the 129 available seats no party had ever won a majority since the first Holyrood election in 1999.

Most of the SNP’s time in government has been under a minority administration as well.

Former first ministers Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon have also presided over such governments.

In such a scenario, the governing party must rely on the votes of opposition parties to get legislation through.

While the SNP lacked a majority of MSPs at the 2021 election, the party’s deal with the Greens – the Bute House Agreement – meant they didn’t need to form a minority government.

The deal saw the parties commit to a raft of policies, from climate to housing and gender reforms, and put Green co-leaders Harvie and Slater in government.

‘Yousaf is weak and thoroughly hopeless’

Ross told MSPs that his party had said from the start that the Bute House powersharing agreement between the SNP and the Greens was a “coalition of chaos” and that it had now “ended in chaos”.

Furious Greens ‘can’t trust weak and thoroughly hopeless’ Humza Yousaf

He said: “I can confirm today that on behalf of the Scottish Conservatives, I am lodging a vote of no confidence in Humza Yousaf.”

He said the Greens should never have been allowed in government.

@stvnews 'The messiest of messy break ups' STV News political editor Colin Mackay has the latest on the SNP breaking off the power-share agreement with the Scottish Greens. Humza Yousaf ended the deal on Thursday morning with Greens co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater being sacked from government. He said the agreement had “served its purpose” and it was in the best interests of the Scottish people “to pursue a different arrangement”. Read more on the STV News website. #stv #stvnews #colinmackay #politics #politicaleditor #greens #snp #deal #butehouseagreement #scottishpolitics ♬ original sound – STV News

Following Yousaf’s decision to end the Bute House Agreement, the Scottish Greens attacked the FM as “weak and thoroughly hopeless”.

Co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater met with the First Minister at Bute House in Edinburgh where they both lost their jobs as government ministers.

In a furious statement, the Greens said the SNP “can’t be trusted” and accused the party of “betrayal”.

SNP Westminster leader ‘very pleased’ Green deal has ended

Speaking after FMQs on Thursday, Yousaf’s spokesperson said there was no dissent around the cabinet when they met on Wednesday morning.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said he was “very pleased” that the FM decided to scrap the deal.

He told STV News: “I think it’s a good day for the people of Scotland and that’s what matters most here because what they can be assured of without any doubt now is that the SNP is going to be properly focused on delivering jobs and opportunities for them, that we deliver economic growth for them, that we continue to invest and protect our NHS and of course that we do everything we can within the confines of devolution to protect people during this cost of living crisis.”

How did we get here?

Scottish Greens co-leaders Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie.Getty Images

Last week, Scotland’s net zero secretary announced that the Government’s “world-leading” targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2030 would be scrapped.

Friends of the Earth described the news as the “worst environmental decision in the history of the Scottish Parliament” while Oxfam said it made Scotland a “global embarrassment”.

Harvie told STV News on the same day that he too was “embarrassed” by the decision and said everyone in Scotland should be angry about his government’s roll-back.

However, the Green minister said he wanted to retain his role and insisted that his party continued to make a positive impact on the Government’s climate response.

From Harvie’s point of view, it was better inside the tent than out in the cold.

Then the Rainbow Greens, which represents LGBT members of the party, protested at Glasgow’s George Square on Thursday against the NHS’s decision to pause the prescription of puberty blockers for new patients.

The influential group claimed the Scottish Government “does not care about the welfare or rights of transgender people in Scotland”.

It wasn’t just party members who had a change of tact though.

The First Minister previously described a vote for the Greens in the upcoming general election as a “wasted vote” while the Greens had hit out at the SNP for a surprise council tax freeze, something they opposed.

Polling expert John Curtice previously told STV News that the SNP had to “squeeze” the Greens amid a continued decrease in their polling number.

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