Yousaf Risks Ouster as Scottish Leader in Latest SNP Turmoil

(Bloomberg) -- Scotland First Minister Humza Yousaf is battling to keep his job after his decision to end the Scottish National Party’s power-sharing deal with the Greens triggered a dramatic day of political maneuvering that leaves him facing a no-confidence vote in parliament as soon as next week.

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Yousaf announced the split with the Scottish Greens at a press conference on Thursday, saying the cooperation agreement reached after the SNP fell one seat short of a majority in the 2021 election had “served its purpose.”

But the move angered the SNP’s former partners, who were about to ballot their own members on whether to end the arrangement in protest at the Scottish government’s decision to water down environmental commitments. Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater denounced the breakup as an act of “political cowardice” and accused the SNP of betraying the electorate.

Speaking to reporters, Yousaf made clear the SNP intends to continue to run Scotland as a minority government. Yet any hope the first minister had of a smooth transition was scuppered when the opposition Conservatives lodged a vote of no-confidence in him. Though it would not be binding, Yousaf would widely be expected to resign were he to lose.

The opposition Labour and Liberal Democrat parties immediately indicated they would support the no-confidence motion. Yousaf’s political prospects then took a dramatic turn for the worse when the Scottish Greens — until Thursday the SNP’s partners in government — said they would also vote against him.

The parliamentary math means the deciding vote could fall to Alba lawmaker Ash Regan, who defected from the SNP to ex-First Minister Alex Salmond’s pro-independence party after losing to Yousaf in a leadership contest last year.

It all adds to the sense of turmoil in the SNP since long-time leader Nicola Sturgeon stepped down last year. The party faces an ongoing police probe into its finances that has led to Sturgeon’s husband facing charges, while the SNP is also struggling in opinion polls against a resurgent Labour Party.

Read more: Scottish Police Charge Sturgeon’s Husband in SNP Funds Probe

Ahead of a UK-wide election expected in the second half of the year, Yousaf had been trying to rebuild the SNP’s image around stable government. But tensions with the Greens came to a head last week when the government scrapped a plan to cut carbon emissions by 75% by 2030 after concluding it was unachievable.

“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,” Slater said in a statement.

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