Scotland’s new First Minister, Humza Yousaf, has presented a ‘new vision’ for his next three years in government which delays, redesigns or reverses a number of key policies of his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon.
But opposition leaders said any stimulus attempt had been ‘completely torpedoed’ by the arrest earlier in the day of SNP treasurer Colin Beattie amid the ongoing police investigation into funding and party finances.
Making his first major political statement since being elected prime minister last month, Yousaf told MSPs on Tuesday afternoon that he would delay the controversial deposit return system, take steps to restrict advertising on the alcohol “back to the drawing board” and would join two international school leagues. tables in order to increase the comparable data available on school performance in Scotland.
Announcing a nearly year-long delay in the widely criticized bottle recycling program, Yousaf acknowledged that companies felt their concerns were not heard by the previous administration, where the program was partner-led. of the SNP, the Scottish Greens, and promised a reset of the relationship between business and government.
Telling Scottish businesses directly that “my door is always open to you”, he said the three missions he had set himself – to fight poverty, build a “fair, green and growing” economy and improve public services – all depended on a thriving industry in Scotland.
Accusing the UK government of creating uncertainty around the deposit scheme by delaying a decision to exclude the scheme from the Internal Market Act, Yousaf announced that the launch of the scheme would now be postponed until March 1, during which time measures will be introduced to simplify the process and support small businesses and the hospitality industry.
But Scottish Labor leader Anas Sarwar dismissed the statement as “repeated promises from the past that have never been kept”.
“But what Humza Yousaf cannot escape is that he currently does not lead a functioning government. This is an SNP that is mired in scandal, mired in division, talking to itself and itself,” he added.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: ‘Everyone, including otherwise engaged SNP backbenchers today, knows that this prime minister’s stimulus has been completely torpedoed.
“And as he focuses on the unrest within his own party, NHS wait time targets are still being missed, more ferries are breaking down and record amounts of sewage are dumped into Scottish rivers.”
Ahead of the statement, Kate Forbes – whom Yousaf narrowly beat in leadership – launched an analysis with independence think tank Common Weal which called on the Scottish government to do ‘more with the powers at their disposal’ to create an economy welfare that will eradicate poverty.
Yousaf himself has pledged to invest a further £1.3billion in Scottish Child Payment over the next three years and said he would be even bolder on redistributive taxation, as he reiterated his campaign pledge to convene an anti-poverty summit, to which he said he would invite experts and people with lived experience of the problem as well as opposition colleagues.