Bute House Agreement

First Minister’s Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament at on 25 April 2024.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Anas Sarwar Anas Sarwar Labour

In 2021, Nicola Sturgeon said that the Bute house agreement meant

“bold policy action on pressing issues ... A commitment to more affordable housing, a better deal for tenants ... Steps to accelerate our transition to net zero ... and ... A focus on green jobs”.

However, less than three years on, under the current First Minister’s weak leadership, the affordable housing budget has been slashed, new rents are rising faster in Scotland than in the rest of the United Kingdom, climate targets have been abandoned and the only two green jobs that have been created—Patrick Harvie’s and Lorna Slater’s—have come to an end, just like the Bute house agreement. Given the Government’s record of failure and incompetence, people across Scotland will be asking, “Why have only two ministers lost their jobs today?”

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Anas Sarwar asked me about a whole range of climate change-related questions. This week, we have seen consent and approval for the world’s largest commercial round for floating offshore wind, which puts Scotland at the global forefront of offshore wind development.

Let us look at Labour’s credibility when it comes to tackling climate change. It is, of course, the party that ditched its commitment to invest £28 billion in green energy—giving in to pressure from the Tories and risking the squandering of Scotland’s immense renewable energy potential. In Glasgow, Labour used to support a low-emission zone, then it tried to stop one being introduced. It teamed up with the Tories to oppose workplace parking levies. Whether at Westminster, at Holyrood or in councils across the country, Labour is guilty of not just the worst type of political cowardice but hypocrisy and—frankly—climate denial, at a time when the Scottish National Party is taking the action that is necessary.

I say to Anas Sarwar that we will continue to support and take action where necessary to tackle not just the climate crisis but the nature crisis. Would it not be quite something if, as opposed to opposing every measure that we take to tackle the climate crisis, Anas Sarwar supported them and demonstrated that he is serious about tackling the climate emergency?

Photo of Anas Sarwar Anas Sarwar Labour

I am happy for Humza Yousaf to delude himself that everything is going well and that he is having a great week. Keep it up, First Minister.

The First Minister has spent weeks defending what is a discredited Government. He protests now; however, if Humza Yousaf will not listen to me, perhaps he will listen to Humza Yousaf. Just days ago, he said that the Bute house agreement was

“worth its weight in gold”.

[ Interruption .] I know that the Deputy First Minister will not want to hear this—

Photo of Anas Sarwar Anas Sarwar Labour

The First Minister was pleading with Green Party members to keep his shambolic Government together. He said:

“I hope that cooperation agreement will continue and I hope that Green members will also see the benefit of that cooperation”,

but now he has been forced into a humiliating U-turn, and he knows it. These are his words:

“I can’t imagine being the ... leader of the SNP and the first thing I do is destabilise the government by going into a minority government ... I think that would be a tremendously foolish thing to do.”

Does he feel tremendously foolish today?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Not content with stealing Tory policies, Anas Sarwar is now nicking Tory lines when it comes to the questions that he asks. [ Interruption .]

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

This year, Anas Sarwar talks about ditching principles—[ Interruption .]

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Let me remind Anas Sarwar about his record when it comes to his principles. Anas Sarwar described lifting the cap on bankers’ bonuses, when the Tories did it, as “economically illiterate” and morally repugnant; however, when Keir Starmer does it, Anas Sarwar, like a good boy, falls into line. Anas Sarwar used to oppose the two-child limit; he now supports Keir Starmer in retaining it. Anas Sarwar used to believe in progressive taxation; he now supports tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of public services. Is it not the case that the only principles that Anas Sarwar has are those that Keir Starmer tells him that he is allowed to have?

Photo of Anas Sarwar Anas Sarwar Labour

I am rebuilding my party and looking forward to the next general election. The First Minister is destroying his party and wants to run away from a general election.

The First Minister claims that this is all a sign of strength. The louder he shouts, the weaker he sounds. However, for once, people agree with Lorna Slater—he is weak, hopeless and untrustworthy. The challenges that our country faces have never been so great, but Scotland’s Government has never been so poor and its leadership has never been so weak.

One in seven Scots are stuck on a national health service waiting list as the First Minister fails to get a grip on the NHS crisis. Families are struggling to make ends meet, while the Government wastes public money. Green jobs are going elsewhere, while the First Minister scraps Scotland’s climate targets. The people of Scotland can see that the SNP has lost its way—it is weak, divided, incompetent and putting party before country.

The people of Scotland did not vote for this First Minister. The people of Scotland did not vote for this mess and this chaos. Is it not time to end the circus and call an election?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

The country will be going to the polls—I hope sooner rather than later—in a general election. Here are the messages that each of our parties will be able to take. I will be able to look in the whites of the eyes of the people of Scotland, on every doorstep in the country, and say that people should vote for a party whose values are the values of the people of Scotland. Our actions are estimated to have lifted 100,000 children out of poverty. We are a party that has chosen investment in the NHS over tax cuts for the wealthy. This nation is the only one in the United Kingdom that has not had its junior doctors or nurses going on strike.

Anas Sarwar’s party is the party that would lift the cap on bankers’ bonuses but retain the cap on child benefits. It is a party that wants to retain the rape clause. It is a party that wants to spend billions of pounds on the obscenity of nuclear weapons, not on reducing household poverty. It is a party that wants to keep Scotland out of the European Union.

Anas Sarwar used to believe in many of the values that this Government believes in. He has flip-flopped, dumped and ditched those principles because his bosses in London have told him to do so. That is the height of hypocrisy, and the people of Scotland will see through it.