The Scottish Conservatives have issued a warning over oil and gas jobs as the SNP and Greens edge closer to reaching a co-operation agreement.
The two parties have been locked in negotiations since May, after the SNP fell just one seat short of an overall majority at the Holyrood election.
We revealed last month that a proposed power-sharing deal between the two sides had ” progressed” and was close to completion.
Members from both parties have expressed reservations around the prospect, with the two sides at odds on several key policy areas, including the speed of the transition away from North Sea oil and gas.
‘Coalition of chaos’
Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative net zero, energy and transport spokesman, claimed the Greens would endanger 100,000 jobs in the oil and gas industry if they were to have influence in the Scottish Government.
The North-east MSP said: “The prospect of an SNP-Green coalition of chaos is terrifying for the 100,000 workers and their families in our oil and gas industry.
“The SNP Government are working hand-in-hand with a party that’s happy to see thousands of hardworking families lose their jobs to suit their priorities.
“They care more about their separatist, ideological grievances than Scotland’s jobs and our wider economy and recovery.”
While both parties said there would not be a formal coalition between the two, an agreement would see them work together on key issues, and could even see some Green MSPs appointed as ministers in Nicola Sturgeon’s government.
Maggie Chapman, Scottish Greens North-East MSP, said the party “won’t provide a running commentary while talks remain underway”.
But she added: “I do find it quite astonishing, however, that the Tories, the party that instituted a programme of deindustrialisation that destroyed communities and cost countless jobs has the gall to pretend it is interested in workers.”
Sources told The Daily Record and PA News agency on Tuesday that an announcement could be made as early as the end of this week.
In their manifesto ahead of May’s election, the Greens pledged to “phase out” oil and gas in the North Sea, but also committed to a just transition – which would see workers in the industry retrained in other lines of work.
In our exclusive interview with Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater, she refused to be drawn on when she believes the industry should be wound down.
However, she said her party wants to “start cutting back the subsidies” and redirecting the money into renewable energy.
Ms Slater claimed it is “risky and dangerous” to leave oil and gas workers dependent on an industry that must be phased out.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said reports the two parties are close to reaching an agreement, “confirms the long held suspicion that the Scottish Greens are just a branch office of the SNP”.
He added: “This coalition isn’t a surprise, it is just formalising a long standing reality where Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP hammer our public services with cuts, and the Greens nod along.”