SNP breaks off power-share agreement with Scottish Greens

Greens co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater are sacked from government after First Minister Humza Yousaf ended the historic deal.

Latest updates
  • Humza Yousaf faces no-confidence vote after ‘terminating’ Bute House Agreement
  • Yousaf said the 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 SNP has broken off the Bute House Agreement ending the power-sharing deal 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”.

“Cooperation in any sphere of life is, almost by definition, a trade-off,” he told a press conference in Edinburgh on Thursday morning.

“When it comes to our agreement, we believe that the benefits have outweighed the compromises.

Humza Yousaf: Bute House Agreement had ‘served its purpose’

“When I said it was worth its weight in gold, I meant it. But it is now my judgement that the balance has shifted.”

Yousaf said the benefit of the Bute House Agreement was stability in government but that recent events meant this was no longer the case.

The Scottish Tories will lodge a motion of no confidence in Yousaf.

The Scottish Greens attacked Yousaf as “weak and thoroughly hopeless”.

Slater accused the SNP of selling out future generations calling the decision “an act of political cowardice”.

“Voters deserve better, Scotland deserves better,” she said.

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

Lorna Slater, Scottish Greens co-leader

“They have broken the bonds of trust with members of both parties who have twice chosen the co-operation agreement and climate action over chaos, culture wars and division. They have betrayed the electorate.

“And by ending the agreement in such a weak and thoroughly hopeless way, Humza Yousaf has signalled that when it comes to political cooperation, he can no longer be trusted.”

Slater said she and Harvie had been prepared to “put our own political careers on the line” with a vote by party members, unlike Yousaf.

“What a pity he didn’t have the fortitude or the bravery to do the same,” she said.

Scottish Conservatives chairman Craig Hoy said the collapse of the coalition was an “utter humiliation” for Yousaf.

“Humza Yousaf’s year as SNP leader has been a disastrous mix of scandals, infighting and policy U-turns,” he said.

“The collapse of the powersharing pact he staked his reputation on is not just humiliating, it highlights once again how inept and out of his depth he is.”

Yousaf confirmed the SNP will now form a minority government. The party previously entered minority administrations under former first ministers Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.

It comes after Green Party members reacted furiously to the Scottish Government ditching some of its climate targets as well as the decision by the NHS to pause the prescription of puberty blockers in Scotland for new patients.

The Greens were due to vote on whether to continue being part of the Scottish Government.

The deal saw Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater become ministers in Nicola Sturgeon's Government.

The parties entered into the power-sharing agreement after the 2021 Holyrood election when the SNP fell one short of the 65 MSPs needed to form a majority government.

The Greens won a record eight seats, up two from the ballot before, and its position as the only other pro-independence group in Holyrood gave it leverage over the SNP.

By the summer, the two parties had entered into the Bute House Agreement which included a range of policy commitments on areas from gender to housing and the climate.

Harvie, the longest-serving Green MSP, became minister for zero carbon buildings, active travel and tenants’ rights while his co-leader Lorna Slater became minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity.

They were and remain the only Green politicians to have entered into government in the UK.

Despite numerous challenges over the last three years – including the risk of the deal ending if Kate Forbes beat Yousaf in the SNP leadership contest – commitment from either side has been steadfast.

But two major announcements on April 18 exposed a deepening chasm between and within the parties.

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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