HOLYROOD’S pro-independence majority is a “strength not a weakness” the First Minister has said, in defence of the Bute House Agreement with the Scottish Greens.

Humza Yousaf was speaking during a Holyrood Sources live podcast event in Edinburgh on Tuesday night, where he told the audience that the cooperation deal would remain intact until 2026, the next scheduled Scottish Parliament election.

The FM insisted that the “political stability” brought by the power-sharing deal was “worth its weight in gold”.

READ MORE: Scotland Office spends more than £75k on hospitality in 16 months

He also said he believed that the Scottish Greens pushed the SNP to go further to embed tackling the climate crisis in their legislation, but refuted the suggestion that the junior party in the Government were “taking the SNP for a ride”.

Yousaf also suggested that his win during the SNP leadership, where he vocally supported continuing the Bute House Agreement signed by Nicola Sturgeon in 2021, meant that there had been a recent “check in” with the membership.

There have been repeated calls for members to be allowed a vote on whether or not the Bute House Agreement should continue during summer recess. 

While he said he was not in charge of the agenda for the upcoming SNP conference in October, Yousaf said he thought a vote on it would be unlikely.

Asked what he was going to do to “arrest that perception” in regards to the Scottish Greens and the current arrangements, which gave co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater ministerial roles in the Scottish Government, he pointed to the recent decision to scrap Highly Protected Marine Areas after a backlash from fishing communities.

He told the podcast: “Let’s remember we’re the ones in the Scottish Government, who have for example, changed course in relation to HPMAs, we heard the community’s response vocally about that.

“Ultimately again before the UK Government took action in relation to vetoing and talking down the DRS [deposit return scheme], when I came in and we said right, we need to listen to our business community around the readiness of that scheme.

“So let's delay, let's make changes, let's listen to those business concerns. They are absolutely legitimate.”

Yousaf said that he accepted that while voters may not care about electoral processes, they do care if “legislation is passed because it impacts them”.

READ MORE: Scotland Office's lavish spending on hospitality – see the full list

He continued: “For those that do believe in independence, like me, having a pro-independence majority in parliament I think is an absolute strength, not a weakness.

“I actually think genuinely, this is more of a bubble story, I'm sorry to say, it does not get referenced to me on many doorsteps.

“It comes up on occasion for sure, it comes up when I speak to them about the A96 in the north east, so it definitely comes up, but I have to say it is not number one, number two, number three issue that comes up time and time again.”

Asked if the Scottish Greens exert influence on the Scottish Government, Yousaf pointed out that there was “no doubt” because they are part of the Scottish Government.

The National: Scottish Greens co-leaders Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie

Probed if that was “too much influence”, he replied: “No, I believe they absolutely have influence, I believe they push us to go further on certain issues.”

Yousaf refuted that the Scottish Greens pushed the SNP to go “further than they’d like”, but admitted that they had pushed them to go further than their original manifesto promises.

“Perhaps further than we thought we’d go, not further than we’d like,” he said.

When it was suggested that this might be difficult for voters who voted for the SNP manifesto at the Holyrood election, Yousaf said: “No I don’t think it is because people want to see political parties work together.

READ MORE: Labour respond to calls to 'block Scottish independence spending'

“We have this agreement, this co-operation agreement. We were voted in as a minority government, we have to accept that, not far off from a majority, but as a minority government, therefore the message is you should cooperate with other political parties to progress your political agenda.”

Earlier, Yousaf told the podcast that there are some policies that were excluded from the Bute House Agreement because both parties disagreed, adding that despite this they were “working together in the best interests of Scotland”.

He added that there were pragmatic reasons for the agreement, such as getting legislation passed.

The National: The FM said Holyrood was 'toxic'The FM said Holyrood was 'toxic' (Image: PA)

“The Parliament, I can tell you now, for the 12 years that I was elected, it is by far the most toxic I’ve ever been in and we’ve all got responsibility to detoxify it as best we possibly can.

“But there’s no way I’m passing a Budget that Douglas Ross is going to vote for or Anas Sarwar is going to vote for, it just isn’t going to happen in a month of Sunday’s.

“Having that political stability, that majority in parliament, not just to pass your Budget, but your legislative programme, for me is worth its weight in gold, absolutely.”