Alba’s Ash Regan says price of support will be higher as Humza Yousaf ‘dithers’

The Alba Party MSP whose vote could be crucial to Humza Yousaf’s future says it is time to “build relationships” but the price of her support will be higher as the First Minister “dithers”.

Ash Regan has not yet confirmed how she will vote in the looming motions of no confidence at Holyrood, expected to take place in the coming week.

The SNP leader has written to the 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.

Mr Yousaf terminated the powersharing deal between the SNP and Scottish Greens on Thursday, leading the smaller pro-independence party to announce they would back the motion of no confidence in his leadership.

Scotland power sharing agreement
Humza Yousaf faces votes of no confidence (Andrew Milligan/PA)

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.

Ms Regan, who defected from the SNP to Alex Salmond’s Alba Party last year, wrote a column in the Sunday Mail saying it is time to “build relationships”.

She said: “I could be holding the vote that decides his future but I will only use it in the way that will be best for Scotland.

“Many would like to see an end to Humza’s chaotic leadership and doubts remain whether he has the political skills required to run a minority government.

“The Green Party’s malign influence over these last three years damaged confidence and I welcome their consignment to the back benches.

“But, if Humza is ousted, he may be replaced by a less able leader who will go back into power with the Greens.

“As Humza dithers and the demands for him to go become deafening, the higher my price will be to support him.”

She added: “His rhetoric of ‘fighting’ is not required just now; it is a time for building relationships and negotiating what is best for Scotland.

Scottish First Minister vote
Ash Regan defected from the SNP to Alba (Jane Barlow/PA)

Mr Yousaf also wrote a column for the Sunday Mail, saying he expected his party would continue to work with the Greens on an issue-by-issue basis.

He said: “But there is now a challenge to all parties to be more constructive.

“The priorities and commitments I set out when I became First Minister are unchanged.

“What has changed is the way in which I believe I can best ensure those commitments can be realised.

“The SNP have a vision for a better Scotland – and we will work with whoever is willing to help us achieve it.”

Scotland’s former first minister Alex Salmond said a “top line” of any discussion with Mr Yousaf would be the idea of reviving the Scotland United strategy – which would see a single pro-independence candidate stand in each Scottish constituency.

He told the Sunday Times: “If you remember the Scotland United idea from last year which Humza just ignored, which was very popular with the Yes groups and amongst SNP supporters.

“It would be difficult to revive it in full now because obviously candidates have been selected [for the general election], but it could be revived in part, or there could be an understanding for the Scottish elections in two years’ time. So, a discussion along these lines, so it’s a menu of independence options.”

Winnie Ewing memorial
Alex Salmond suggested an electoral pact (Paul Campbell/PA)

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 that there are “strong feelings” about the upcoming confidence votes.

Letters were sent to the Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Labour, the Scottish Greens, the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the Alba Party on Friday night.

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, who lodged a motion of no confidence in Mr Yousaf, said: “This is a humiliating and embarrassing letter in which Humza Yousaf is begging to be allowed to keep his job.”

The Scottish Greens said they would respond formally to the First Minister in due course, but otherwise their position is unchanged.

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