Douglas Ross slams Humza Yousaf's record whilst in office
The Scottish Tories have written to the country’s top civil servant to protest over the appointment of a minister for independence. Humza Yousaf pledged to create the role during the race to replace Nicola Sturgeon and this week gave the job to SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn.
In a letter to Permanent Secretary John Paul Marks, Scottish Tory constitution spokesman Donald Cameron said money should not be being spent on Scottish independence in light of the Supreme Court ruling last year that the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to hold another referendum.
He said: “This is not an appropriate use of taxpayer funding as it is not an area where the Scottish Government can action any policy that is has the power to deliver.”
Mr Cameron went on to say it would be “reasonable” for the Permanent Secretary to “consider formally objecting to such a spending proposal”, before asking Mr Marks if he had done so and been subsequently overruled.
He added: “I consider this matter to be of significant public interest, not least in light of the taxpayers’ money being spent on this appointment.”
In a statement, Mr Cameron added: “There is simply no justification for the creation of a minister for independence post in the Scottish Government.
“It’s a scandalous and flagrant attempt by Humza Yousaf to divert public money to promote the party-political goals of the SNP on a matter outside the Scottish Government’s competence.
“I’ve written to the Permanent Secretary to establish whether or not ‘ministerial direction’ was sought before this post was created – and, if not, why not?
“The Supreme Court ruling last November was clear and unequivocal that the Scottish Government has no authority to unilaterally hold an independence referendum – so there is no function for this minister other than cheerleading for the SNP.
“It’s bad enough that this self-serving nationalist administration is so out of touch with the public’s real priorities that the constitution is its primary focus.
“But it’s completely unacceptable that Humza Yousaf should squander taxpayers’ money on his independence obsession when it’s beyond his Government’s powers.”
Mr Yousaf was unveiled as the SNP’s new leader on Monday following a bitter contest.
He appointed Mr Hepburn to the new minister for independence position on Wednesday as he announced his Cabinet and junior ministers.
Asked on Thursday what his responsibilities would be, the Scottish First Minister said: “Advancing independence, he’ll work closely, as you’d imagine, with Angus Robertson.”
He added: “He’ll work across and alongside the party to ensure that we are in the best place possible to advance the cause of independence.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The First Minister has appointed a Ministerial team that reflects the priorities that he will pursue in government – including tackling child poverty, improving public services, building a fairer, greener economy, and giving people the information about devolution and independence that they need to make an informed choice about Scotland’s constitutional future.
“The Permanent Secretary has received the letter from Mr Cameron and will respond in due course.”
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