Alex Salmond says Alba support for SNP is dependent on push for Scottish independence

Humza Yousaf in battle for his political future ahead of tight confidence votes at Holyrood

Andy Gregory
Sunday 28 April 2024 17:37 BST
Alex Salmond weighs in on whether Humza Yousaf will survive no confidence vote

Alex Salmond has warned Scotland’s embattled first minister Humza Yousaf that his Alba Party will only back him in a confidence vote if the SNP is open to a renewed push for Scottish independence.

The no-confidence motion was lodged by Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross after Mr Yousaf dramatically collapsed the SNP’s power-sharing agreement with the Scottish Greens last week – leaving him at the head of a minority government in Holyrood.

While there is no obligation for him to resign if he loses that vote, Labour has also called for a second vote of confidence in Mr Yousaf’s government, which would force all ministers to resign if passed and give MSPs 28 days to agree on a new first minister, or else trigger a Scottish parliamentary election.

Humza Yousaf dramatically brought the Bute House Agreement to an end this week (Reuters)

With the Greens indicating they will remain steadfast in backing the motion against Mr Yousaf – accusing him of a “spectacular breach of trust” in abandoning their 2021 “Bute House Agreement” – the SNP leader has written to other parties in an attempt to build bridges.

Fighting to save his political future in the face of tight parliamentary arithmetic ahead of this week’s vote, Mr Yousaf has invited rival parties to meetings at his official residence to establish how they could potentially work with his minority government.

Representing Alba – the party set up by former SNP leader-turned-rival Mr Salmond in 2021 – will be its sole MSP Ash Regan, a former SNP minister who defected in October.

While Mr Yousaf’s spokesperson has dismissed any electoral pact with Alba as “fantasy”, Mr Salmond noted that the first minister is in a “very difficult position” and appeared to be open to “moving away from the identity agenda” which Mr Salmond said “has caused so much disruption in Scottish society”.

The SNP have 63 out of 128 voting MSPs at the Scottish Parliamet, meaning Ms Regan’s support may be needed to get Mr Yousaf over the line.

Ash Regan’s could hold the key vote in the motion against the First Minister (PA Wire)

Speaking to Sky’s Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips, 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.”

Mr Salmond warned that his party’s support would be dependent on the SNP’s openness to exploring Alba’s own plans to push Scottish independence back up the agenda.

“The specific proposals that Ash Regan has, she has a bill in the Scottish parliament to extend the powers it has to include the legislation for the negotiation for independence,” he told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg show.

“We’ve got every reason to believe that is within the competence of the parliament and we’d like a discussion on that.

“And secondly there’s the idea of an independence convention, something that has been widely canvassed by the independence movement and could put independence back onto the front pages and top of the list of priorities of the Scottish government.”

Alex Salmond weighs in on whether Humza Yousaf will survive no confidence vote

Mr Yousaf wrote his appeal to each of the other major Scottish parties on Friday night in a bid to seek “common ground”.

Mr Ross, the Tory leader said it was a “humiliating and embarrassing letter”, while Scottish Lib Dem 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.”

Ms Slater, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, told BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show, that she could not “imagine anything at this point that could change” her party’s intention of voting against Mr Yousaf next week.

“[The Bute House Agreement] was based on mutual trust and respect,” said Ms Slater. “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.”

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.”

Additional reporting by PA

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in