POLITICS can be a bit of circus. But for Scotland’s newest party leader, that’s maybe no bad thing.

When not working full-time as an engineer, Lorna Slater — the new co-leader of the Scottish Greens — can be found flying through the air on a trapeze.

The 43-year-old even trained with Aerial Edge, Glasgow’s circus school, for four months last year.

As she puts it: “You can’t worry about politics or work when you’re hanging upside down by one hand.”

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Ms Slater and long-standing MSP Patrick Harvie were elected co-leaders of the Scottish Greens last week, and will lead the party into the crucial 2021 Holyrood polls.

Both have put the climate emergency centre stage, while Brexit and independence also loom large.

Speaking to The Herald following her election, Ms Slater outlined the balancing act of priorities the party now faces.

And she also revealed her unusual way of letting off steam – sparked by flying trapeze lessons she was given for her 40th birthday.

“To me the most important issue is the climate emergency, but unfortunately, with Brexit and all that, we have to swim in the waters that we find ourselves in,” she said.

“So we can’t ignore Brexit. It’s what’s on people’s minds. I think we’re going to have to try and ride both those horses – keep pressing on the climate emergency, keeping pushing the SNP Government to do more, because they declare a climate emergency and do nothing, and equally keep clear what our positive vision is for an independent Scotland in the EU.

“The Unionist parties don’t have anything positive to say. It’s all gloom and misery.

“They tell this really miserable story about what the Union means post-Brexit, and I just don’t think you can win like that. You win by telling a positive story.”

An electromechanical engineer working in the renewable sector, Ms Slater was born in Canada and has previously been a Green candidate for Edinburgh Council and the European Parliament.

She plans to stand for the Scottish Parliament and told activists she will be a “hands-on” campaigner and organiser. Lothian MSP Alison Johnstone will continue to co-lead the Greens at Holyrood alongside Mr Harvie.

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Ms Slater said her primary goal is to help the Greens win more seats, with a particular focus on women and non-binary people.

And she appeared keen to put clear green water between her party and the SNP.

She dismissed suggestions the two parties should co-ordinate on independence in their next manifestos, but made clear policies are for members to decide.

She also rejected the idea of the Greens – who have propped up the last three budgets under the minority SNP administration – entering into any formal Holyrood coalition with the Nationalists in future.

“The only issue we have in common with the SNP is independence,” she said.

“On everything else, we tend to vote differently from them. They vote with the Tories; we vote with Labour.

“So I think that that would actually be a terrible idea. It would be a terrible idea because we would end up signing up to policies that we don’t agree with at all.

“I think where we are right now is quite a good position to be in, where we can push the SNP on issues that matter to us, but we are not signed up to things that we really don’t agree with.”

Ms Slater said the SNP had failed “miserably” on land reform, and had left power “in the hands of developers and big corporations and landowners”.

And she insisted the Nationalists “have to finally pull their finger out on council tax”.

She added: “They have promised in manifesto after manifesto to reform it, and they keep not doing it. This is a very regressive tax. It would make a huge difference to public services.

“They can’t keep complaining that Westminster is imposing this austerity on us when they themselves are not bold enough to reform that council tax.

“So, for me, that’s really important. As is taking action on this climate emergency that they’ve declared, and then haven’t done anything about.

“They cannot continue to support grouse shooting and the fossil fuel industry and expanding the roads and so on. If there’s a climate emergency, either there is or there isn’t.”

Asked about her passions outside of politics, Ms Slater revealed she trains with the circus, developing her skills on the flying trapeze and aerial silks. “It’s just a hobby,” she said, sparked by that gift almost four years ago.

Still, with the new Scottish Green leaders elected for a two-year term, during a period of unprecedented political upheaval, there will be a lot to juggle. Circus skills could come in handy.