Humza Yousaf's leadership teeters on brink as he faces two confidence votes

First Minister intends to fight a vote of no confidence tabled after he disbanded his coalition

First Minister Humza Yousaf speaks during a press conference at Bute House, Edinburgh, after the First Minister terminated the Bute House agreement. PA
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Humza Yousaf has said he will not resign as Scotland's First Minister despite facing two votes of no confidence, which could bring down his administration.

Scottish Labour has tabled a motion against the whole Scottish government, while the Conservatives have tabled one specifically about Mr Yousaf. That motion is backed by Mr Yousaf's former allies the Scottish Greens who he dropped from his coalition on Thursday.

The Scottish National Party leader ended the alliance after scrapping a climate change emissions reduction target last week.

A Glasgow-born son of immigrants from Pakistan and Kenya, Mr Yousaf, who is Muslim, is the first person from a minority ethnic background to become the First Minister of Scotland.

He has repeatedly called for a ceasefire in Gaza, where members of his wife's family became trapped following Israel's retaliation against Hamas.

Mr Yousaf visited a housing development in Dundee after hurriedly cancelling a speech on independence on Friday.

Speaking to broadcasters, he said he will not stand down and intends to fight the vote of no confidence in him lodged by the Tories.

Asked if he would work with Alba Party Holyrood leader Ash Regan, whose vote could be potentially critical to his survival, the First Minister said he would be writing to all leaders, inviting them to a meeting in an attempt to “make minority government work”.

Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: "It's a matter now of when - not if - Humza Yousaf will step down as First Minister.

"It would be untenable for the SNP to assume it can impose another unelected first minister on Scotland."

Mr Yousaf cancelled a planned speech on Friday, as SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn insisted the First Minister will "come out fighting".

Mr Yousaf was due to speak about the labour strategy in an independent Scotland at Strathclyde University.

It comes as the Alba Party MSP whose vote could be crucial to Mr Yousaf's future has written to the First Minister, setting 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".

Her Bill would seek a referendum to ask the Scottish public if Holyrood should have the powers to negotiate and legislate for Scottish independence.

The SNP leader dramatically brought the power-sharing deal with the Greens to an end on Thursday, leaving him facing a backlash which could potentially cost him his job.

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.

Scotland's Humza Yousaf through the years - in pictures

Mr Flynn told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme on Friday: "Humza Yousaf is a man of profound integrity. I had a conversation with Humza last night.

"He was reflective, but he was also very clear to me that he's going to come out fighting because he believes in what he says.

"He believes in delivering for the people for Scotland. He believes in creating jobs and opportunities for the next generation."

Asked if Mr Yousaf would be speaking to the Greens ahead of the vote, Mr Flynn said: "I would anticipate so, just as I would anticipate there would be conversations with others as well."

Mr Flynn also said he expects Mr Yousaf to win the confidence vote and continue as party leader and First Minister.

Speaking to Radio 4 later, Mr Flynn suggested he would not stand to be SNP leader if Mr Yousaf were to be ousted.

Ms Regan, a former Scottish Government minister, posted a copy of her letter to Mr Yousaf on social media.

It said: "Independence for Scotland, protecting the dignity, safety and rights of women and children, and providing a competent government for our people and businesses across Scotland remain my priorities.

"My door is open to discussing the progress of my proposed Scottish Parliament Powers Referendum Bill."

The Bute House Agreement gave the SNP-led government a majority at Holyrood but it came under strain in recent days after the Greens said they would put the future of the deal to a vote by their members.

Some in the Greens were unhappy after the government dropped a 2030 climate target, and over the decision to pause the prescription of new puberty blockers at Scotland's only gender clinic for young people.

With the Greens voting in favour of the no-confidence motion, there would be 64 out of 128 MSPs who do not back the First Minister.

Alba leader Mr Salmond said Ms Regan is now the "most powerful MSP in the Scottish Parliament".

Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone can cast tiebreaking votes but would be expected to vote in favour of the status quo.

Any vote is likely to take place next week, with timings to be confirmed by parliamentary authorities.

The SNP leader has accused the Tories of game-playing, insisting the power-sharing deal with the Greens had "served its purpose" and lasted 19 times longer than Liz Truss's premiership.

The party was thrown into turmoil by a police investigation into its finances, which saw former chief executive, Nicola Sturgeon's husband Peter Murrell, charged by police recently with embezzling funds from the SNP.

Updated: April 26, 2024, 1:59 PM