Humza Yousaf's leadership rival Kate Forbes backs beleaguered Scottish First Minister, as no confidence vote looms

27 April 2024, 10:19 | Updated: 27 April 2024, 10:21

Kate Forbes has backed Humza Yousaf
Kate Forbes has backed Humza Yousaf. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

A former leadership rival of Humza Yousaf has backed the embattled Scottish First Minister as he faces a vote of no confidence.

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Kate Forbes, who came second to Mr Yousaf in the leadership race after Nicola Sturgeon's resignation last year, urged others in the SNP to support the First Minister despite his recent travails.

Mr Yousaf told LBC on Friday that he would not be resigning, despite a vote of no confidence ahead, after ending the power-sharing deal between the SNP and Scottish Greens on Thursday.

Ms Forbes said recent events had been "an embarrassment for every parliamentarian in every party".

She wrote in Scottish newspaper the National: ""It is easy to be loyal to a party when times are good and the party is ahead in the polls.

Read more: Power-sharing deal between the SNP and Greens in Scotland collapses

Read more: Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf defiantly says he will not resign as he faces No Confidence vote

First Minister Humza Yousaf
First Minister Humza Yousaf. Picture: Alamy

"But you find out what real leadership is - and what real loyalty looks like - when times are tougher and that is why I will back the SNP and the First Minister through next week's fight and I urge everyone in our party and everyone who cares about Scotland to do the same."

Mr Yousaf denied on Friday that his time as First Minister was coming to an end.

He said: “I intend fully to be fighting a vote of no confidence. I intend to win that vote of no confidence.”

He told LBC: "I’m out here delivering on the priorities of the people. £80 million towards affordable housing, while the opposition are just playing silly political games. let them play the games that they're going to play.

Kate Forbes
Kate Forbes. Picture: Alamy

"I'll be writing to each of the party leaders in the party group represented within the Scottish Parliament to have that discussion with them about their priorities and what are our priorities. And I would say to the Greens. I understand and I've heard they're upset.

"I've heard their anger and I understand it, and that was certainly not my intention. But what I would say to them is I think it's really important that they do reconsider their position in relation to the vote of no confidence because the SNP and the Greens, although not in a formal arrangement in in cooperation agreement, still share a number of values we still share important priorities.

"I've heard they're upset, and it certainly was not my intention to make them feel that way, so I would hope that they are willing, once I write to them, to meet, to have a discussion I intend to go into that voting of confidence and win that vote of no confidence."

He said it was not his intention to anger the Greens by ending the power-sharing deal, saying he hoped the party would “reconsider their position.”

He said he is confident he can win the no confidence vote, after he scrapped his power-sharing deal with the Green Party, which had supported the SNP led Scottish government for three years.

He faces a no-confidence vote next week, with the Scottish Greens planning to vote against him.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar is set to lay a motion of no confidence in the Scottish government on Friday afternoon.

Mr Sarwar told LBC that it would be "completely untenable" if the SNP chose another unelected First Minister instead of allowing the people of Scotland to vote.

It comes after the SNP's power-sharing deal with the Scottish Greens collapsed on Thursday, with Humza Yousaf saying the agreement had “served its purpose" and was "no longer guaranteeing a stable arrangement in parliament".

In response to the "sudden ending", the Greens said they would support a vote of no confidence in Mr Yousaf.

The First Minister called an emergency cabinet meeting on Thursday and cancelled a planned speech for Friday as he continued to fight for his political future.

He was due to speak about the labour strategy in an independent Scotland, take part in a Q&A session and take questions from the press.

Read more: Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf faces vote of no confidence after power-sharing deal collapses

LBC Views: Humza Yousaf has taken a big gamble in sacking the Scottish Greens

Anas Sarwar launches blistering attack on Humza Yousaf

Speaking to LBC, Scottish Labour's Mr Sarwar said: "I think it's now a matter of when not if Hamza Yousaf resigns as First Minister.

"But I think it'll be completely untenable for the SNP to presume they can impose another unelected First Minister in Scotland.

"And that’s why Scottish Labouur has said already we don’t have confidence in Humza Yousaf.

"But today we will also be laying a motion before Parliament saying that the Scottish Parliament does not have confidence in this Scottish Government because, ultimately, I think it’s the people of Scotland that should decide who leads this country not just a small group of SNP members."

The Alba Party MSP, whose vote could be crucial to Mr Yousaf's future, has written to the First Minister and set out demands in exchange for her support in a vote of no confidence in him.

Ash Regan, a former SNP minister who defected to Alex Salmond's party, said she wants to see progress on Scottish independence and defending "the rights of women and children".

A tight vote is expected at Holyrood next week, and since the SNP have 63 out of the 128 MSPs, Ms Regan's vote would appear to be crucial in getting Mr Yousaf over the line.

On Thursday night, a source close to Mr Yousaf said he was "absolutely not" considering his position following the chaotic events earlier in the day.

His decision to end the Bute House Agreement with the Scottish Greens was branded an act of "political cowardice" by the smaller pro-independence party.

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