Alba Party can help Humza Yousaf out of ‘pretty tight corner’ – Alex Salmond

Alex Salmond has said sole Alba Party MSP Ash Regan will present Humza Yousaf with “reasonable proposals” which could help him out of a “pretty tight corner” when they meet.

It comes as Mr Yousaf’s former partners in government, the Scottish Greens, have indicated they will not be changing their minds about supporting the upcoming motion of no confidence in him – saying he must face “consequences”.

Votes on the motions of no confidence are expected to take place at Holyrood in the coming week, with the First Minister facing tight parliamentary arithmetic as he fights to save his political future.

The SNP leader has written to other parties in an attempt to build bridges and establish how they can work with his minority Government, inviting the other leaders to meetings at his official residence.

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Humza Yousaf is fighting to save his political future (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Speaking to Sky’s Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips, Alba Party leader Mr Salmond said: “What Ash Regan will do in the meetings she’s been invited to by Humza Yousaf, the First Minister, is make a set of reasonable proposals to help him out of a very tight corner and put Scotland back on a sensible governmental road.

“Stressing the priority of independence for Scotland, the protection of women and girls in Scottish society and a return of the Government to the things that matter to the people – education, health, housing and, above all, the economy and jobs.”

He said Mr Yousaf is in a “very difficult position” and appeared to be open to “moving away from the identity agenda which has caused so much disruption in Scottish society”.

The Alba Party’s National Executive Committee held an emergency meeting on Sunday where it approved Ms Regan’s proposal to put the party on an election footing in the event that an early poll is required.

Ms Regan set out to the NEC her three priorities in any negotiations with Humza Yousaf, which are independence, women’s rights and the “restoration of competent government”.

The party said she received the unanimous backing of the ruling body to pursue these priorities “in the best interest of Scotland”.

Speaking to BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show, Lorna Slater, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, said her party’s position on the confidence motion is unchanged.

She said: “I cannot imagine anything at this point that could change that position.

“This was a spectacular breach of trust.”

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Lorna Slater said there had been a ‘spectacular breach of trust’ (Andrew Milligan/PA)

She continued: “(The Bute House Agreement) was based on mutual trust and respect. I do have trust and respect for many of my SNP colleagues.

“But Humza Yousaf himself has broken that and he needs to face the consequences.”

The tight parliamentary arithmetic at the Scottish Parliament, where the SNP have 63 out of 128 voting MSPs, means Ms Regan’s support may be needed to get Mr Yousaf over the line.

Mr Yousaf’s spokesperson has dismissed as “fantasy” the idea the First Minister would agree an electoral pact with the Alba Party to gain its support ahead of the no-confidence votes.

The First Minister has written to the leaders of Scotland’s political parties to seek “common ground”.

He hopes to hold separate meetings with each group at Bute House in Edinburgh to discuss how they can “contribute constructively” while acknowledging there are “strong feelings” about the upcoming confidence votes.

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Alex Salmond praised his MSP Ash Regan (Paul Campbell/PA)

In his letters, Mr Yousaf emphasised that the Scottish Parliament has previous experience of minority administrations which had delivered benefits for “people, communities and businesses”.

He said: “I recognise the strong feelings in relation to the confidence debate our parliament is set to have next week.

“Notwithstanding that, I am writing to all Holyrood party groups to ask them to meet me next week, in separate meetings, to discuss their concerns and indeed priorities in a hopefully constructive spirit.”

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said it was a “humiliating and embarrassing letter”.

On Sunday, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton also rejected the offer of talks, telling Mr Yousaf: “Your actions this past week have eroded entirely any remaining trust that you enjoyed across the chamber.

“They suggest that rather than being motivated by the national interest, you are presently motivated only by your own self-interest and by political survival.”

A Scottish Labour spokeswoman said: “We will respond to this letter in due course.

“However, it is clear that Humza Yousaf has lost the confidence of Parliament and the public. There is nothing he can do to change Scottish Labour, or the public’s, mind about that.”

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