Humza Yousaf Square

Can Scottish entrepreneurs trust Yousaf to be business-friendly and ditch independence campaigning?

IN WHAT was pre-billed as his biggest speech yet to business as First Minister, Humza Yousaf used the recent All Energy Conference in Glasgow to call for UK government support for decarbonisation opportunities in Scotland, including the eye-catching Acorn Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) project.    

The huge promise of Acorn is that it would use existing oil and gas pipelines to put damaging global warming emissions from heavy industry back under the seabed from whence they came. And it’s right that Humza Yousaf’s Scottish Government should be working with their Westminster counterparts to get what has been billed as a “no brainer” strategic investment over the line.   

Reading the First Minister’s speech, I was pleasantly surprised at the tone adopted. Not once was independence mentioned. There was even talk of common interests with the UK government. Was this the birth of an SNP reset on inter-governmental relations in the interests of business?   

I remain doubtful.

Rumour has it that in past Westminster-Holyrood dialogues, Nicola Sturgeon’s least collaborative and most intransigent lieutenant was none other than the current occupant of Bute House. So, there won’t be great reservoirs of trust that things will get better in direct discussions on issues like energy infrastructure that require deep cooperation for best results.

Even if Mr Yousaf is sincere in turning over a new leaf, obvious barriers of his own making remain, hindering any growth in goodwill.    

There’s the SNP’s deal with the anti-growth Scottish Greens, which has already alienated business through disastrous policies like the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) and residential rent capping that has put at risk an estimated £2.5 billion in build-to-rent investment (now to be extended for another six months to March 2024)..   

A direct and obvious link exists between giving succour to the Greens’ pet projects and the manufacture of judicial disputes with UK ministers, with the DRS likely to fall foul of internal market rules.   

Meanwhile Holyrood’s first ever Independence Minister, leading a 20-strong civil service team tasked with breaking up the UK, is expected to release a new independence White Paper in a few weeks, ahead of a new summer campaign on the issue. What is such activity for if not to undermine cooperation between Scotland and the rest of the UK at taxpayers’ expense?   

Scrapping that deliberately divisive post would help create trust, not just with ministerial colleagues across the UK but also with a business community that is hoping the role of Minister for Independence is removed.   

If only someone could invent ‘CCS’ for Scottish politics: Like carbon capture and storage, but as well as extracting harmful industrial emissions at source and piping them under the North Sea, we’d suck toxic nationalist grievance from sensible economic policy and decision-making and bury it there too.   

That would be one strategic investment the whole of Scottish business would get behind.   

If you appreciated this article please share and follow us on Twitter here – and like and comment on facebook here. Help support ThinkScotland publishing these articles by making a donation here.

Photo of First Minister Humza Yousaf by Scottish Parliament –, OSPL,


Weekly Trending

Scroll to Top