Home » Politics » Humza Yousaf broke rules five times at Cop including von der Leyen meeting
Humza Yousaf broke rules five times at Cop including von der Leyen meeting
December 12, 2023
Humza Yousaf met with five different foreign leaders during Cop28 without an official from the UK Government present, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has claimed.
A row erupted over the Scottish First Minister’s meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after Lord David Cameron on Sunday wrote a letter reprimanding him.
The Foreign Secretary threatened to withhold support for the Scottish Government’s international relations efforts due to a lack of Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) presence.
But speaking at the Scottish Affairs Committee, Mr Jack claimed it happened on four other occasions during the SNP leader’s time at the summit.
Mr Jack told MPs there were also meetings with European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and acting Pakistani Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar.
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He said: “There were five different occasions where meetings happened with foreign ministers without an official.
“It’s not complicated, if there aren’t to be any sanctions, all the Scottish Government have to do is take Foreign Office officials to their meetings, that’s all we’re asking.
“(It) is incumbent on me and every other minister in the United Kingdom, and everyone else seems able to do it.”
The Scottish Secretary also described Mr Erdogan as someone the Foreign Office “did not believe should be met”.
In his letter on Sunday, the Foreign Secretary said: “The absence of an FCDO official at this meeting contravenes the protocols in our guidance on FCDO support to devolved Government ministers’ overseas visits.”
He added: “It is critical that the UK presents a consistent message to our international partners and that the devolution settlements are respected.
“We must ensure that UK foreign policy, a reserved matter, is coherent and that we speak with one voice to the international community.
“I remain open to discussing a constructive way forward. However, any further breaches of the protocol of ministerial meetings having an FCDO official present will result in no further FCDO facilitation of meetings or logistical support.”
But Mr Yousaf branded the letter as “misguided and petty”.
He said: “First of all, let’s be clear – the approach from Lord Cameron is really petty and, frankly, misguided.
“Scotland is the part of the UK, outside of London, that has attracted the most foreign direct investment for eight years in a row, that happens because the Scottish Government’s international engagement is valued (and) has impact.
“To threaten to curtail that, to stop that international engagement – the international engagement from the elected Scottish Government from an unelected lord – I think is misguided and petty.”