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Alex Salmond disagrees with Humza Yousaf and ‘wouldn’t describe’ Nicola Sturgeon as ‘Europe’s most impressive politician’ | UK News

Alex Salmond has said he disagrees with Scotland’s new first minister and wouldn’t describe Nicola Sturgeon as Europe’s “most impressive” politician.

Mr Salmond, an ex-SNP leader and former first minister, said Ms Sturgeon has instead left a difficult legacy of “pretty absurd and silly policies”.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Salmond said his “strong advice” to new First Minister Humza Yousaf is to “sweep that nonsense away” and concentrate on the key issues of housing, education and health to “restore confidence” in the Scottish government.

The Alba Party leader’s comments come after Mr Yousaf declared on Tuesday that Ms Sturgeon was the “most impressive politician I think we have seen in Europe”.

Mr Salmond told Kay Burley on Wednesday: “Well, that wouldn’t be quite my description.”

Mr Yousaf described his predecessor as an “asset” to the SNP amid calls for the 52-year-old to be suspended after she was arrested and released without charge amid a police probe into the party’s funding and finances.

Mr Salmond praised Ms Sturgeon’s communication skills but said she has left a “very difficult policy legacy for her successor”.

He said: “She’s left a difficult policy agenda in the Scots Parliament, full of, you know, pretty absurd and silly policies like self-identification, closing fishing areas, bottle schemes, [and] abolishing some trials by jury.

“Now, you’re never going to get a majority of Scots behind such policies, and my strong advice to Humza Yousaf is to sweep that nonsense away.

“Concentrate on the key issues of housing, education, health, and restore confidence in the Scottish government’s running of the Scottish Parliament.”

Ms Sturgeon was arrested on Sunday and questioned for around seven hours as part of Operation Branchform.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon with husband Peter Murrell as they cast their votes in the 2019 General Election at Broomhouse Park Community Hall in Glasgow.
Ms Sturgeon and Mr Murrell

The long-running Police Scotland inquiry is linked to the spending of around £600,000 raised by SNP supporters and earmarked for Scottish independence campaigning. It is understood there have been complaints the ringfenced cash has been used improperly by being spent elsewhere.

Ms Sturgeon, who has denied any wrongdoing, is the third high-profile SNP member to be arrested in connection with the probe.

Her husband, ex-SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, and former SNP treasurer Colin Beattie were both arrested and later released without charge back in April.

Officers from Police Scotland outside the home of former chief executive of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Peter Murrell, in Uddingston, Glasgow, after he was "released without charge pending further investigation", after he was arrested on Wednesday as part of a probe into the party's finances. Picture date: Thursday April 6, 2023.
Police officers searching Ms Sturgeon and Mr Murrell’s home

Mr Yousaf has denied being “weak” for not taking action against Ms Sturgeon.

Mr Salmond defended Mr Yousaf’s stance but added both Ms Sturgeon and Mr Murrell suspended people “at the drop of a hat” when they were in charge.

He said: “I actually think that Humza Yousaf has set a perfectly defensible line – the presumption of innocence. You don’t suspend people until they are charged with something, and that hasn’t happened as yet.

“His difficulty, of course, is that wasn’t the position adopted by Nicola Sturgeon or Peter Murrell the chief executive, her husband, when they were in power. I mean, they used to suspend people at the drop of a hat basically.”

Read more:
Who is at the centre of the investigation?
The inside story of SNP police probe

Timeline of the SNP’s woes

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First Minister Humza Yousaf explaining why he won’t suspend Nicola Sturgeon

Mr Salmond said Mr Yousaf has made the “right decision” not to suspend Ms Sturgeon but he added: “The SNP’s under a substantial financial cloud. It’s not going away anytime soon. It’s not about one individual. It’s a systemic argument about what the SNP’s been doing.

“And therefore, Humza really, and he has to do this pretty quickly, has to set out a new agenda to stamp his mark on being first minister as opposed to just being seen as Nicola Sturgeon’s candidate, Nicola Sturgeon’s successor.

“He really needs to put his own mark on being first minister.”

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