SNP MSP Jim Fairlie slammed Scottish Tories for their “hypocrisy” over oil and gas jobs in the north sea during a Holyrood debate.

The Tory-led motion called "Backing the North East Economy” stated that prematurely ending the oil and gas industry would “decimate" the industry hub.

However, SNP and Green MSPs countered that this was exactly what the Scottish Government is trying to avoid, by planning for a managed transition to protect those workers and move them into renewable energies instead.

The Tories said that stopping oil and gas production in the North Sea could lead to more imports of fossil fuels, which may come from countries with lower regulatory standards.

Speaking in the debate, SNP MSP Fairlie set out the impact of former Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher closing coal mines, without a transition plan in place, which devastated many communities across Scotland, many of whom are still feeling the effects.

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He said: “A Tory motion talking about defending jobs and protecting an industry that doesn’t ring true, the hypocrisy is utterly dripping from every word.

“In fact the hypocrisy is something there is plenty of from the Tories in here, there is hypocrisy in wanting to suck out every last drop of oil that is left in Scotland’s seas, something that simply does not chime with the global reality of our need to stop burning fossil fuels, let alone the UK Government’s own targets of reaching Net Zero of 2050.

“If the Tories' motivation for wanting to drain every last dollar of oil out of the North Sea was really to protect the fabulous workforce and use the revenue for direct benefit for the people of Scotland I could have some sympathy for the motion, but it's not.

“It’s about bleeding our national resources dry and siphoning up the money to be swallowed up by Westminster’s own vanity projects while at the same time completely bypassing the democratically elected parliament right here in Scotland.”

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Scottish Greens MSP Mark Ruskell (pictured) said that the Tories appeared to be “having trouble keeping up with a changing world”.

Tory MSP Finlay Carson intervened in Ruskell’s speech to ask if he would welcome the UK having to import oil and gas from abroad “with a larger footprint to ensure we do have a just transition?”

Ruskell replied: “That’s exactly the point Mr Carson of what the Scottish Government is now doing to assess what our domestic energy requirements are and how that then relates to the fields that we’ve got in the North Sea, the six billion barrels of oil and gas that we’ve got in the North Sea, some of which could meet our domestic energy needs.”

He added: “We need to work within our planetary limits, this shouldn’t be a barrier to innovation and growth of business opportunities because it’s the very catalyst that we need for change, to create new markets, to crowd in investment and deliver long term stable and fair jobs for the future.

“That’s the debate that we’ll be having in this chamber, it just looks like the Tories are not interested in having it.”

Scottish Labour MSP Colin Smyth, moving an amendment which focused on job retention for North Sea workers, said that turning off the taps prematurely would have a “devastating impact” on the north east and Scotland as a whole, and would lead to the UK relying on greater levels of imports.

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Tory MSP Douglas Lumsden intervened to ask if Smyth agreed that having projects like the controversial Cambo oil field “coming on stream” would be a good thing to limit imports.

Smyth, South Scotland MSP, said: “Mr Lumsden will know that it's Shell that has pulled out of Cambo because they’ve concluded that the economic case wasn’t strong enough.

“He’ll also be aware that the IPCC report commissioned by his own UK Government concluded we can’t continue to pursue Maximum Economic Recovery of fossil fuels, so it is crucial we have a just transition.

“I know that’s something that Mr Lumsden and his party don’t understand - go and ask any mining community in my constituency when it comes to a just transition for energy workers.”

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Tory MSP Liam Kerr (pictured), who moved the motion, said that the Scottish Government must “get real” about continuing oil and gas demand or risk importing more.

He said: “Unless the Scottish Government starts to support our oil and gas industry and genuinely step up to a fair and managed transition, new production will not go ahead, we’ll import from abroad and up to 100,000 workers in the oil and gas industry and associated industries will be thrown under the bus in favour of virtue signalling.”

MSPs will vote on the motion at a later date, after technical issues with the parliamentary systems on Wednesday meant members could not join virtually.