NICOLA Sturgeon has unveiled “groundbreaking” talks with the Scottish Greens that may see their MSPs join the administration to form a majority independence government.

The First Minister made public the announcement as she set out to Holyrood her priorities for the new parliament.

In the immediate aftermath of the election a coalition between the two parties was ruled out, but the new move could see a more formal relationship short of a coalition being established.

The SNP secured 64 MSPs in the May 6 election, while the opposition have a total number of 64 after the Green MSP Alison Johnstone was elected Presiding Officer.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon unveils 'groundbreaking' talks with Scottish Greens

“Since the election, I have had a series of exploratory discussions with the Scottish Green Party about how we might work together more formally in future,” she said. “I am pleased to advise Parliament that at a meeting in Bute House last night, I agreed with the Scottish Green Party that we will now move these informal discussions to the next stage,” she told Holyrood.

“I can confirm that the Scottish Government and the Scottish Green Party will enter structured talks, supported by the civil service, with a view to reaching – if we can – a formal Cooperation Agreement.

“Exactly what the content, extent and scope of any Agreement will be is what the talks will focus on.”

She said: “What we hope to achieve is potentially groundbreaking. In the coming weeks, we will seek to agree specific policy areas in which we would formally co-operate and, within each, identify the shared objectives and policy initiatives we would be agreeing to work together on.

“I am confident these policy areas will include the climate emergency and how we can accelerate Scotland’s progress to net zero.”

She said both parties were keen to identify other issues potentially where co-operation would be more “challenging”.

The Greens want North Sea oil and gas production to end within a decade, while the Scottish Government back a more gradual winding up of the fossil fuel industry.

The smaller Yes party also support increasing income tax for wealthier Scots and the introduction of a “millionaire’s tax” – other policies not backed by the SNP in their election manifesto.

“So in that vein let me be clear that while this is not a guaranteed or pre-agreed outcome, it is not inconceivable that a Cooperation Agreement could lead in future to a Green minister or ministers being part of this government,” she said.

“What we are embarking on will require compromise on both sides –but it will also require us to be bold.”

She added: “It is perhaps worth noting that neither the Scottish Green Party nor the SNP government are doing this because we need to.

“It is not being forced upon us by Parliamentary arithmetic. Indeed, we are taking a risk that the talks won’t succeed.”

​READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon tells Holyrood Scotland will have new referendum

Responding to the announcement, Scottish Greens Co-Leader Lorna Slater MSP said: “We hope that through these talks we can deliver real change.”

Patrick Harvie MSP said: “We believe the people of Scotland want to see grown-up politics like this, and will approach the forthcoming talks in this spirit.”

But Scottish Conservative energy spokesman Liam Kerr hit out.

“The Greens seem to have finally given up pretending to be a separate party from their nationalist allies. Once again, we see that their true colours are not green but SNP yellow,” said Kerr. “A more formal SNP-Greens coalition is a nightmare scenario for the 100,000 workers in Scotland’s oil and gas industry, who will be concerned that their jobs are at immediate risk. The potential economic damage could have wider consequences beyond the oil and gas industry.

“This is a coalition of chaos that could put Scotland’s economic recovery at risk by pushing for another divisive referendum while we should be fully focused on tackling the devastating long-term impact of the pandemic on jobs and businesses.”