Former minister hits out at Greens as he calls for end to powersharing deal

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A former minister turned SNP rebel has called for the end of the powersharing agreement between the Government and the Greens as he dubbed the party “wine bar pseudo-intellectuals”.

In recent months, Fergus Ewing has become an outspoken critic of the upper echelons of the Scottish Government and the SNP, particularly around the dualling of the A96 and the deposit return scheme (DRS).

Now Mr Ewing – who most recently served as rural affairs secretary in Nicola Sturgeon’s government – has attacked the Scottish Greens after new First Minister Humza Yousaf made the decision to continue the deal that put their co-leaders in government and solidified a pro-independence majority in Holyrood.

“We’ve allied ourselves to a small group of fringe extremists that want to dismantle our economy, put hundreds of thousands on the dole and basically close down rural Scotland.”

The SNP managed to govern as a minority between 2007 and 2011, Mr Ewing said, proving the deal was “not actually necessary”.

He took aim at the Green position on oil and gas, claiming the party says the industries should be “shut down right now”, as well as field sports and farming, saying the Greens want to ban salmon farming and beef production.

The Greens’ 2021 manifesto pledges to introduce tighter regulations on salmon farming.

Mr Ewing accused the “green tail of wagging the yellow dog”, suggesting Green-backed policies had lost the trust of SNP members.

Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater
Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater were invited back into government by Humza Yousaf (Jane Barlow/PA)

“Many who formerly were sympathetic towards us as long as we concentrated on competent government. Once this process of losing trust starts it is hard to stop.

“As long as we are joined by the hip to the Greens we will suffer by association. We do not need them, as was shown in 2007 to 2011.

“I hope for the sake of the party I have served for half a century that we will soon extricate ourselves from this connection with a party which is not so much green but deepest red – of the extreme left.

“This association sends out entirely the wrong signals to a country, a clear majority of whose people we must win over to our cause, and whose trust is an essential ingredient of achieving our aim of being a normal independent country.

“The message is loud and clear. It’s time for the new FM to recognise the damage the association with the Green Party has caused – and scrap the Bute House Agreement.”

A spokesman for the First Minister did not engage with Mr Ewing’s comment directly, but said: “The ground-breaking Bute House Agreement has been instrumental in delivering bold action on the pressing issues facing Scotland – and the cooperation between the two parties has been in stark contrast to the often polarised and divided political debate in Scotland.

“The agreement was backed by around 95% of SNP members. and in turn the First Minister made clear during his successful leadership campaign that he would maintain this important cooperation agreement.”

He added: “Frankly, his brand of conservative politics make him indistinguishable from the Tories on most issues, so if it’s a return to the frontbench he’s angling for then he probably stands a better chance with his dear friend Douglas Ross than he does with this progressive Government, which he so clearly despises.

“His arguments against the Bute House Agreement are lifted straight from the Conservative hymn sheet, so maybe they’re feeding him lines already.

“Whilst Fergus continues to work against the democratic mandates of both the public and SNP members from the furthest depths of the backbenches, Scottish Greens in government will continue to deliver for the people of Scotland and our planet.

“From someone so far to the right he’d make Boris Johnson blush, we’ll wear his ‘extreme left’ jibes as a badge of honour.”

Scottish Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton described Mr Ewing’s comments as a “blistering attack” which “exposes the enormous and bitter splits within the SNP”.

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