ALEX Salmond has weighed in on Fergus Ewing’s suspension from the SNP and launched an attack on the Scottish Greens.

The former SNP first minister, and now Alba party leader, said the Greens “spell real trouble” for his former party and defended Ewing for his commitment to independence.

SNP MSPs at Holyrood had agreed to suspend the Inverness and Nairn MSP from their group for a week back in September 2023 after he voted against a Scottish Greens minister Lorna Slater in a crucial vote of confidence.

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Ewing, the son of late SNP trailblazer Winnie Ewing and a former rural economy secretary in the Scottish Government, had appealed against that decision.

But in a statement released by his office on Tuesday evening he said it had been upheld by the party who he then turned his fire on.

Ewing voted with Tories, LibDems and Labour in a vote against Slater over her handling of the deposit return scheme. 

He claimed the vote against her was a “vote of conscience” and hit out at the SNP.

“The SNP has now become an authoritarian party requiring strict obedience to the leadership at the expense of personal freedom for any individual member,” he said. 

The National: Fergus Ewing

And now, Salmond has released a statement defending Ewing and said that for the Greens independence is a “flag of convenience”. 

“It is not just Fergus and his half-century of service to the SNP that makes it the wrong decision,” he said.

“It’s the sacrifice of the efforts of all traditional independence supporters at the altar of a Green Party, which pays mere lip service to the cause.

“The Greens spell real trouble for the SNP. Their contribution to government is entirely negative; every Governmental disaster from administering the bottle scheme to self-identification has green fingers all over it. 

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“For the Greens, independence is a flag of convenience, something which secures their ministerial meal tickets.

“For Fergus Ewing, in contrast, independence and his Highland constituency are his political raison d’être. An SNP which has no room for the Ewings is heading for the sands.”

Ewing, a veteran politician who has been an MSP since the first Holyrood elections in 1999, spoke out against the Scottish Government on policies such as the now halted deposit return scheme (DRS) and the introduction of new regulations for short-term property lets.

He became known for his back bench rebellions, including ripping up the consultation on Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) in the Holyrood Chamber. 

The National:

It was after DRS was put on hold that a vote of no confidence in Slater (above) was called, with Ewing saying he had “stood up for my constituents to protect them against a disastrous policy (the Deposit Return Scheme) and voted with my conscience against that policy, which was eventually discarded”.

But he insisted: “The SNP leadership no longer tolerates a conscience vote.”

Ewing again called for First Minister Humza Yousaf to allow SNP members a fresh vote on the Bute House Agreement, which allowed Slater and co-leader Patrick Harvie into Government and taking up junior ministerial roles.

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The Inverness and Nairn MSP pledged he would “continue to defend” his constituents, but refused to say if he would re-join the SNP.

He stated: “For my future, I vow to continue to defend the interests of my constituents, and as far as the SNP is concerned… let the cards fall as they may.

“If the SNP cannot cope with that, so be it.”