Humza Yousaf rages at ‘petty and misguided’ letter from David Cameron

Humza Yousaf fumed at a “petty and misguided” letter from Lord David Cameron threatening to withdraw co-operation with Scottish ministers.

The Scottish First Minister met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at Cop 28 on December 1.

An official from the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) was not present at the meeting, which the Scottish Government claims was due to a last-minute rescheduling from Mr Erdogan’s team.

In his letter, the Foreign Secretary said the absence of a UK official breached devolution protocols.

Speaking today, Mr Yousaf said: “First of all, let’s be clear – the approach from Lord Cameron is really petty and, frankly, misguided.

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“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.”

The SNP leader claimed the issue could have been resolved privately if Lord Cameron had approached the Scottish Government.

He said: “For Lord Cameron to say he’s basically going to stop Scotland’s international engagement because of one meeting, where one FCDO official wasn’t able to attend – because, of course, at events like Cop, diaries can change quite last minute – is really petty, really misguided.

“I suggest to Lord Cameron that next time, if he has an issue like that, he should just pick up the phone, I’m sure it can be resolved.”

Explaining what happened in relation to his meeting with Mr Erdogan, Mr Yousaf said: “It was rearranged at short notice by the President of Turkey’s team, the FCDO official chose not to stay with the Scottish delegation the whole day, and because of that they ended up missing the meeting.

“Nothing was discussed that hadn’t been discussed at other meetings, such as the climate crisis, and, in this particular meeting, the issue of the Israel-Gaza conflict.”

The Scottish First Minister added that an FCDO official was at the “vast majority” of meetings he had during the climate summit.

The letter from Lord Cameron warned co-operation will be withdrawn if “any further breaches” occurred.

It said: “Despite an assurance being given by Scottish government officials that they would provide sufficient advance notice to allow an FCDO official to attend that meeting, this was not done.

“A UK official was available, whose contact details were known to your officials on the ground, but the location of the meeting was not shared with them.

“The absence of an FCDO official at this meeting contravenes the protocols in our guidance on FCDO support to devolved Government ministers’ overseas visits.”

The letter 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.”

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