ASH Regan is “not afraid” of the Scottish Greens pulling out of the Bute House agreement if she becomes the next SNP leader, and insisted she would lead a minority government instead.

At the official launch of her campaign to become the next first minister, Regan told The National that she was aware the pro-independence party had hinted they wouldn’t be willing to work with her if she refused to challenge the UK Government’s Section 35 order used to block Scotland’s gender reforms from becoming law.

The Edinburgh Eastern MP reiterated that she would not launch a legal challenge against the move by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, something outgoing FM Nicola Sturgeon said she would pursue due to the “assault on Scottish democracy”.

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With the leadership contest now in full swing and all three contenders having passed the threshold for nominations, Regan held a press conference in North Queensferry on Friday morning.

In a sit-down interview with The National after her speech, Regan was asked if she had concerns that her refusal to challenge Section 35 could lead to the Scottish Greens leaving the Bute House Agreement and impact many of the plans set out in the Programme for Government.

Regan said: “I have worked in a minority government before, I think you have to work harder to get things done, but I think it's definitely achievable. So no, I'm not afraid of that.”

Asked if she wouldn’t be heartbroken if the Greens pulled out of the deal in the event she took over the SNP, Regan said: “'I’m not afraid of having a minority government, let's put it that way.”

The National: Regan launched her leadership campaign on Friday morningRegan launched her leadership campaign on Friday morning (Image: PA)

The National also asked Regan if she had any concerns that many Green voters, who lend their vote to the SNP as another progressive independence party, could refuse to do so if she was in charge - and if she was concerned about losing their vote.

She replied: “No, I think that people that vote for the SNP, and want the SNP [to be] successful will still work with the SNP especially if we've got a clear policy on independence.”

Sturgeon signed the Bute House Agreement with the Scottish Greens in August 2021, bringing co-leader Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater into the Scottish Government in ministerial roles.

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Earlier this week, Harvie said whoever the next leader of the Scottish Government is will have a “huge amount” to recommit to.

Regan also rebranded her independence strategy plan at the campaign launch, replacing her de facto independence referendum plan with a “voter empowerment mechanism” instead.

The National asked how Regan intends to bring the movement together, following splits on independence strategy and the row over Scotland’s gender reforms and Section 35 order.

She said: “I would hope that the other pro-independence parties will adopt this policy, put it in their manifestos so that it won't just be the SNP, it will be a vote for any of the pro-indy parties that adopt this strategy.

“And then if we get over the 50% plus one, then we go forward.

I'm really hopeful that the other pro-indy parties will want to come on board with this and that they want to work with us, because I think it's clear that we're not going to get anywhere. If we will just fight each other.

“We will have to work together to get to our aim, which is obviously a prosperous independent Scotland.”

In a press huddle following her campaign launch, Regan was repeatedly asked about any links she had to Alba and if her policies were influenced by party leader Alex Salmond.

Regan insisted that she was running for leader of the SNP, not Alba, and that she hadn’t spoken to Salmond in the past week.

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However as we previously told former Alba candidate Kirk Torrance, who was at the campaign launch, has been brought on to Regan’s team as a strategist. Torrance stood as Alba’s lead candidate on the Highlands and Islands list in the 2021 Holyrood election.

The National asked Regan if she thought she was being painted as the Alba candidate in the race, and for her response. She claimed she hadn’t looked at any of their policies, adding: “I don't know what they are.”

She added: “I looked at what people were writing and how to think about what things were, and I've decided that this is our strategy.

“I couldn’t even tell you if it was anything to do with them - and the other thing to remember is that I've never served under any first minister other than Nicola Sturgeon.”