THE First Minister has said the Tories have “really serious questions to answer” concerning a £20,000 donation from a drinks lobbying firm after the UK Government U-turned on including glass in deposit return schemes in England and Northern Ireland.

In May of last year the Conservative Party received a £20,000 one-off donation from the Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) – a trade body and vocal opponent of glass being included in deposit return schemes across the UK.

The donation came just six weeks after the UK Government appeared to change its mind on including glass in the scheme in the wake of lobbying from the WSTA and others.

Speaking at the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) Conference in Edinburgh, Humza Yousaf told The National: “I think there are some really serious questions for the UK Government to answer, not for the first time, in relation to conflict of interest.

“What I would also say is that the UK Government and the English scheme is the outlier. The Welsh scheme has glass included. The Scottish scheme has glass included.

“The UK Government as recently as this year, in fact, consulted on glass being within their scheme.

“They decided to pull the plug and there are many questions to answer around why they came to that decision in the first place.”

It comes as the deadline for the removal of the UK Government’s conditions on Scotland’s deposit return scheme – which stipulate that the scheme will only be permitted to go ahead if glass is excluded – looms.

The First Minister sent a letter to Rishi Sunak on Saturday with a deadline for the removal of the conditions of Monday (June 5) in order for the Scottish Cabinet to discuss the way forward for the scheme on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Deposit Return Scheme: Deadline for plans due to expire

Yousaf told reporters that the Scottish Government would find it “extremely difficult” to move ahead with the deposit return scheme if glass is not included and asked the UK Government to listen to Scottish businesses.

He added: “By close of play today I would like to hear from them but if they come in, even at the 11th hour, if there’s a change of mind because they’ve listened not to me but to Scottish business who say that removing glass will put them at a competitive disadvantage, that would be great.

“If they don’t do that then Cabinet will have to have a discussion about whether or not the DRS can go ahead at all.

“What I’m not prepared to do is put Scottish businesses, jobs and investment at risk because of a unilateral last-minute decision by the UK Government.

“It didn’t have to be this way. The DRS regulations, which included glass in this scheme, were passed by the Scottish Parliament. There was no need for the UK Government to try and undermine devolution and put this scheme at risk.”

Yousaf was appearing at the SCDI Conference to discuss his government’s "reset" of relationships with Scotland’s business community.