Sunday, 19 Sep 2021

Nicola Sturgeon’s second referendum on edge as Greens deal faces collapse over fish

Nicola Sturgeon says there’s a ‘choice between two futures’

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The two parties have been locked in negotiations since May, after the SNP fell just one seat short of an overall majority at the Holyrood elections. While both parties said there would not be a formal coalition between the two, an agreement would see them work together on key issues, and could even see some Green MSPs appointed as ministers in Nicola Sturgeon’s government.

 

The key area of agreement between the two sides before the negotiations was the constitution with both the Greens and the SNP in favour of Scottish independence.

An agreement would also help towards formalising the 72 pre-separation MSPs in Holyrood, seven more than the 65 needed for a majority.

But a source familiar with the negotiations last night told the Express there were disputes over issues including the climate emergency, marine conservation and fishing quotas which could “derail the talks”.

They added there were “some big difficulties” in dealing with the SNP with “strong hints” ministers were not willing to compromise on key issues, especially climate change.

Pressure has been mounting on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon by their potential Government partners to “set an example” ahead of Cop26 and oppose the Cambo oil field despite the plans being in the hands of Boris Johnson.

Up to 132 million tonnes of carbon could be released if the field, off the coast of Shetland, is given the green light.

The Scottish First Minister has been challenged by the Greens to recognise the proposed oil field would be incompatible with the UK and Scotland’s climate targets and international obligations.

A motion by Scottish Greens environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell has been laid before parliament on Cambo, which the SNP has been asked to back.

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The MSP said in the motion: “The North Sea already has more oil than we can afford to burn if we are to meet the Paris climate commitments and secure our survival, so approving new fields would be a catastrophic decision by the UK Government.

“It’s important that the Scottish Parliament is clear in the messages it sends ahead of COP26, and that starts with urging the UK Government to see sense on this.

“I urge MSPs of all parties to back my motion.”

Despite concerns the talks could collapse however, Scottish Government civil servants are currently preparing the final arrangements of the deal which outline the roles and responsibilities Green politicians will have in the SNP led Scottish Government.

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Co-leaders of the party, Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, are the lead favourites of the eight Green MSPs to be appointed ministers.

This publication understands an announcement on an agreement is expected to come next week following Cabinet approval next Tuesday.

Ms Sturgeon had been under pressure from backbench SNP MSPs over concerns they were largely left out of the details of the deal.

But meetings have been taking place over the last few days to reduce “worry” and “unease” about a deal, insiders concluded.



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