Salmond: No idea why Foreign Office so petrified by Yousaf meetings

Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has questioned why the Foreign Office is “so petrified” by meetings between Humza Yousaf and foreign leaders.

In one of his first acts as Foreign Secretary, Lord Cameron wrote to the Scottish Government to rebuke the current First Minister after meetings – including with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – without an official from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) present.

The letter included a threat to revoke support for Scotland overseas, including the removal of Scottish Government offices from UK embassies if officials were not present at future meetings.

Mr Salmond appeared before the Scottish Affairs Committee on Tuesday to discuss inter-governmental relations since devolution – where he generally praised Lord Cameron’s approach to Scotland while he was prime minister.

Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond appeared before the Scottish Affairs Committee on Tuesday (Jane Barlow/PA)

He added: “It is a self defeating business … you can’t stop Humza Yousaf believing what he does about Gaza, if indeed he was discussing Gaza, as opposed to climate change.”

The former first minister went on to suggest “there may be something more than meets the eye” in Lord Cameron’s letter, adding: “Nobody would send such a petty, ridiculous letter unless there was some backstory to it.”

Threatening to withdraw co-operation with Scotland abroad, Mr Salmond added, was “totally out of proportion”.

The former first minister, who served in Bute House for four years while Lord Cameron was in Downing Street, said the former prime minister engendered the best intergovernmental relations during his time in office – a time which saw the signing of the Edinburgh Agreement, paving the way for the 2014 independence referendum.

He added: “I don’t know what the backstory is behind the Cameron letter, but that letter was published.

“It looks like a reprimand to a naughty schoolboy and I’m hoping that Humza Yousaf can have an early meeting with David Cameron where I’m hoping that David Cameron will be as amenable and positive as he was on non-party political matters to me 10 years ago because I see no benefit whatsoever in trying to gag the First Minister of Scotland or trying to restrict who he meets and who he doesn’t meet.”

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