Scotland: SNP and Scottish Greens’ power-sharing agreement is ‘groundbreaking’, Nicola Sturgeon says

Nicola Sturgeon has described a new power-sharing agreement between the SNP and the Scottish Greens as “groundbreaking”.

Announcing the new pact during a news briefing at Bute House in Edinburgh, Scotland’s first minister said the move would help to create “a greener, fairer, independent Scotland”.

It will see the Greens move into government for the first time anywhere in the UK and will see two Green MSPs take ministerial office.

The agreement also solidifies the pro-independence majority in Holyrood and says a new Scottish independence referendum will be sought in the first half of the parliamentary session – if the pandemic is over.

Ms Sturgeon described the partnership as “groundbreaking in both Scottish and, perhaps even more so, UK politics”, and said it is “about doing politics and governance better”.

“Most importantly though, it is an agreement that meets the challenges and the opportunities of our time,” she added.

The announcement comes following a meeting of the Scottish Cabinet on Friday morning.

Both parties had been negotiating the agreement since May after the SNP were left one seat short of an overall majority at the Holyrood election.

The SNP and the Scottish Greens have said this will not be a formal coalition, but a process of working together on key issues.

“The publication of this agreement today undoubtedly marks a historic moment,” Ms Sturgeon said.

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie added: “This is indeed a historic moment. This deal would see Greens entering government for the first ever time in Scotland, or anywhere in the UK – and it couldn’t come at a more important time.

“The last 18 months have been an incredibly difficult time for us all and as we seek to rebuild our lives and our economy we really must seek to do things differently.

“We must build a fairer, compassionate country and we must do everything in our power to tackle the climate and nature emergencies and deliver a just transition for all of Scotland. And that is what this deal will do.”

A 51-page document outlining the agreement confirms the two parties have agreed to work together on a Scottish independence referendum after the pandemic.

“This would be within the current parliamentary session on a specific date to be determined by the Scottish Parliament,” the document states.

“If the COVID crisis has passed, our intention is for the referendum to be within the first half of the five-year parliamentary session.”

The agreement states that Green MSPs will support the Scottish government on confidence votes and in annual budgets if there is “appropriate funding” for the agreed shared policy programme.

But it adds that some areas are excluded from the agreement, including much of aviation policy, the future of green ports and direct funding to businesses involved in the aerospace, defence and security sectors.

The pact supports the Scottish government’s view that oil and gas licences should be reviewed rather than scrapped.

Ms Sturgeon came under fire in July for not being explicit in her opposition to the controversial Cambo oil field near Shetland which could produce more than 800 million barrels of oil.

It also reveals that a Bill to reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) will be introduced to the Scottish Parliament in the first year of the parliamentary session.

The Scottish government will seek to “simplify” the process for a transgender person to legally change their gender, the agreement states.

The controversial policy has been blamed for defections to former Scotland first minister Alex Salmond’s new Alba Party.t

The Scottish government also announced a £500 million fund to aid a “transition to a net zero economy” for the north-east and Moray as part of the deal.

“This will support and accelerate the transition of the region and support the role of Aberdeen and the wider north-east as one of Scotland’s centres of excellence for the transition to a net zero economy,” they said.

The Scottish Conservatives and Labour have previously raised concerns about a deal.

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