A WAR of words has broken out between an SNP grandee and the Scottish Greens after he called the party “fringe extremists” and called for an end to the two parties’ co-operation agreement.

Fergus Ewing, a former Cabinet secretary who was dropped from Government by Nicola Sturgeon after the 2021 elections, used an op-ed in the Daily Mail to attack the SNP allies as “wine bar pseudo-intellectuals whose fingernails have never encountered dirt”.

He called for the Bute House Agreement between the parties to end and for the SNP to govern as a minority government. “Losing the occasional vote or two doesn’t matter much,” he wrote.

“I hope for the sake of the party I have served for half a century that we will soon extricate ourselves from this connection with a party which is not so much green but deepest red – of the extreme left.”

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Ewing took aim at the Greens for wanting to end oil and gas production in the North Sea, end field sports such as grouse shooting, and claimed – inaccurately – that they want to “shut down” Scottish salmon farming.

But in a fierce rebuke, Green MSP Ross Greer suggested Ewing should join Douglas Ross’s Scottish Tory contingent, claiming he is already singing “from the Conservative hymn sheet”.

Greer (below) said: “Frankly, his brand of conservative politics make him indistinguishable from the Tories on most issues, so if it's a return to the frontbench he's angling for then he probably stands a better chance with his dear friend Douglas Ross than he does with this progressive government, which he so clearly despises. His arguments against the Bute House Agreement are lifted straight from the Conservative hymn sheet, so maybe they're feeding him lines already.

The National:

“Whilst Fergus continues to work against the democratic mandates of both the public and SNP members from the furthest depths of the backbenches, Scottish Greens in government will continue to deliver for the people of Scotland and our planet. From someone so far to the right he'd make Boris Johnson blush, we'll wear his ‘extreme Left’ jibes as a badge of honour.”

The Greens have not, as Ewing claimed, called for Scottish salmon farming to be “shut down”. Instead they have called for reform of the sector to make it more sustainable, arguing for, amongst other things: “A moratorium on the licensing of new salmon farms and the expansion of existing ones until environmental and animal welfare concerns are addressed.”

Ewing, the son of former SNP MP Winnie Ewing and brother of deputy presiding officer and MSP Annabelle Ewing, had backed Kate Forbes during the party’s leadership race.

There were suggestions that a Forbes victory would have spelled the end of the governing agreement with the Greens due to her socially conservative views and intention not to challenge the UK Government’s block on gender reform.

However, after Humza Yousaf’s victory, the agreement with the Greens was reaffirmed and the party’s co-leaders – Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater – kept on as junior ministers in government.

Calls for SNP unity in the wake of the leadership election have been undermined by Ewing’s open attack on his party’s key allies in parliament, with the Tories leaping on it to claim he has exposed the “enormous and bitter splits within the SNP”.

Scots Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton claimed Ewing’s attack on the Greens was “bang on the money”, adding: “As Fergus Ewing’s comment show, the SNP have abandoned rural Scotland.”

SNP MP Angus MacNeil backed Ewing, saying he was "right, the 'Bute House Agreement' has to go". The Western Isles MP took specific aim at the Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) policy, which he said should be dropped.

He added: "The reality is, the Greens are not good for anybody's environment!!"

A spokesperson for Yousaf said the “ground-breaking” Bute House deal with the Greens had been backed by “around 95 per cent of SNP members” and said the new First Minister had made clear his intentions to continue the “important agreement”.