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Ash Regan: Humza Yousaf’s defeated leadership rival could hold the key to his political fate | UK News

This has become a political bloodbath for Humza Yousaf.

He began the day under pressure to stamp his authority at the looming prospect of the SNP’s government partners, the Greens, walking away in a row over ditched climate targets and growing scepticism of the Cass report on gender identity services for children.

The SNP leader and Scotland’s first minister wanted to reset the narrative, to show he is in control. He hauled Green ministers in for an 8am appointment, which I understand was very tense. They were sacked on the spot.

In a hastily-arranged news conference, Mr Yousaf told me I was wrong to suggest he is not really pulling the strings. Let’s remember he had hailed the SNP-Green alliance as “worth its weight in gold” fewer than 48 hours earlier.

Whatever his early morning intentions, it is not unreasonable to suggest it has spectacularly backfired.

His SNP premiership is in peril, with the newly-ousted Greens promising to back the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats in a vote of no confidence next week.

One Green source told me: “We’re going to f*** them for this.”

It is mind-blowing that this is a party which was partly running the country fewer than 24 hours ago.

Read more:
Political future of Scotland’s first minister in the balance
SNP’s power-sharing agreement has ‘served its purpose’

Humza Yousaf holds a press conference as he announces the SNP will withdraw from the Bute House Agreement,  
Pic Reuters
Humza Yousaf. Pic Reuters

If we cast our minds back to the bitter SNP leadership campaign last year, the loser Ash Regan quit the party months later and defected to Alex Salmond’s Alba Party.

She has sat on the fringes of Holyrood ever since, ignored by her former colleagues.

There was talk of her even being moved to a cupboard-style office. Some within the SNP completely washed their hands of her and almost brushed her off as a joke.

The irony is that Ms Regan is now likely to have the casting vote, given the SNP is now a minority administration and the rest of the opposition have confirmed they are plotting to oust the beleaguered first minister.

Ms Regan finds herself as possibly the most powerful woman in Scotland.

Alba insiders have told me her demands could include the Scottish government ditching the controversial gender recognition reforms completely.

The prospect of Mr Yousaf possibly looking at bowing to a party with one Holyrood politician is embarrassing at best and a full-scale humiliation at worst. But will it happen?

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The SNP has its fair share of troubles, given the current police probe examining its finances, but Thursday’s developments take everything to a whole new level.

Critics suggest it calls into question the entire strategy in the government engine room and leaves the leadership drowning in chaos.

Is a Holyrood election on the cards? We could find out next week.

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