Scottish government minister, Lorna Slater, has managed to survive a vote of no confidence tabled by Conservative MSP Liam Kerr. The circular economy minister, and co-leader of the Scottish Greens, has faced heavy criticism for her handling of Scotland’s controversial deposit return scheme in recent months. To make matters worse, hours before politicians voted on Kerr’s motion, Slater was this afternoon forced to admit that the company running the scheme, Circularity Scotland, had appointed administrators.
Though Slater saw off the vote, with 55 MSPs voting for the motion while 68 voted against it, her reputation did not escape unscathed from the rather unedifying debate. The anger at deposit return scheme-related failings radiated from all sides of the chamber. ‘It is not fair for workers to lose their jobs as a result of government decisions,’ said Labour’s Sarah Boyack, citing the problems facing businesses already signed up to the scheme, ‘and for Lorna Slater not to lose hers.’
Kerr accused First Minister Humza Yousaf of having misplaced his confidence in Slater, while Scottish Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton said the scheme’s shortcomings under Slater had cost ‘the trust of the people’. Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton came out fighting on two fronts however, slamming the Scottish government’s handling of the DRS as making ‘a pigs ear…[out] of a good idea’, before turning his attention to the Scottish Tories. Accusing the Conservative party of bringing about the motion merely to ‘distract from their own problems in London’, Cole-Hamilton described the full debate as ‘wholly depressing’, adding that both the SNP and Conservative governments are ‘incapable of owning up to their mistakes’.
The most striking comments were not made in the chamber, but in a statement written by Fergus Ewing, SNP MSP for Inverness and Nairn, who revealed that he voted in favour of the motion.