HUMZA Yousaf criticised Labour’s plans to increase the windfall tax on the oil and gas sector – decried by some as a U-turn on the policy from the SNP chief.

But what were the First Minister and SNP’s positions on taxing those making billions of profits in the North Sea before Monday's keynote speech in Aberdeen?

What did he actually say about a windfall tax and what has the reaction been?

The National has all you need to know below.

READ MORE: SNP ‘won’t let Labour do to north east what Margaret Thatcher did to mining towns'

What did Humza Yousaf say about Labour’s windfall tax plans?

The First Minister described Labour’s plans to raise the windfall tax on oil and gas companies from 75% to 78% as “aggressive”, adding that it was a move designed to “plug the massive financial hole” required to build new nuclear power plants in England.

“Don’t get me wrong, we support a windfall tax but Labour’s plans to increase this to pay for nuclear energy power plants in England, is plain wrong and will cost tens of thousands of jobs,” Yousaf said on Monday.

“Once again the workers of the north east are being asked to pay the price because of Westminster’s economic and energy mismanagement.

“As ever, when Westminster parties needs to find cash – they look to Scotland.”

He insisted that revenue should be used to find the “green energy revolution” in Scotland.

The National:

What has Humza Yousaf said previously about a windfall tax?

During the SNP leadership contest, Yousaf voiced his support for a windfall tax on energy companies, saying: “I’ve been a supporter of a windfall tax for a long time. So those industries where they are making billions of pounds of profit, I think there’s a way of making sure that some of that profit is reinvested back into communities.”

He also insisted during a speech in January that profits from oil resources in the North Sea would be used to finance capital spending in an independent Scotland, funding industrial policy initiatives and sectors including hydrogen, carbon capture storage and floating offshore wind.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn also called for the UK Government to introduce a windfall tax in the Commons in March 2022, in order to tackle the cost of living crisis.

READ MORE: Oil and gas body holds 'emergency summit' on Labour windfall tax plans

What did his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon say?

When the UK Government’s proposals were first announced, then-first minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was not “ideologically opposed” to a windfall tax on oil and gas, but that the north east should not bear the brunt of the proposals. She argued the funds should be used to help consumers dealing with high energy bills.

She would later urge then-prime minister Liz Truss to fund an energy price freeze with a windfall tax on oil and gas profits.

What was the reaction?

The Tories, who have been seeking to paint themselves as champions of the industry, seized the opportunity to attack the SNP.

“Humza Yousaf is displaying breath-taking hypocrisy masquerading as a friend of Scotland’s oil and gas industry when he and the SNP have abandoned it at every opportunity,” Douglas Ross said.

“The SNP have a long-standing ‘presumption against’ policy on all new oil and gas licences, they oppose Rosebank, they were the first party to call for a windfall tax and it’s only a few months since Humza Yousaf was proclaiming the end of the industry in a speech in New York.”

The Scottish Greens, on the other hand, supported calls for a windfall tax profits to fund renewables, also criticising Labour’s plans.

The National: Douglas Ross

“We are in an age of climate chaos and the longer we remain reliant on fossil fuels the worse it will be”, MSP Mark Ruskell said.

“The challenge for all of us is to move beyond oil and gas and towards a renewables-powered future.”

Elsewhere, the Aberdeen Independence Movement (AIM) welcomed Yousaf’s comments.

“The speech marks a welcome change in messaging around our vital oil and gas sector and repositions the party on a more pragmatic stance moving forward,” they said on Twitter/X.

“The north east's need for just transition is clear, but this will only be achieved by taking the oil & gas sector with us on the journey.”

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So is this a U-turn?

Sort of. The SNP aren’t against a windfall tax, just what it will be used to fund ... in this case, nuclear power in England. Clearly the First Minister would rather see the profits kept in Scotland to fund a just transition.

This has been the direction of travel in Scotland since Sturgeon was in charge, but there is a shift towards winning over the industry under Yousaf.

We saw that begin during his New Year independence speech, and further confirmed on Monday.

While Sturgeon said there should be no more oil and gas licences and called for the Cambo oil field to be blocked, Yousaf has admitted he would use oil profits to fund the early years of independence as well as the just transition and to do so, he'll need to keep the industry on side.