The SNP's Westminster leader has rejected calls by three former government ministers for party members to be given a new vote on the deal with the Scottish Greens.

Stephen Flynn has said those who have urged the party to have a vote for members at this year's conference on the Bute House Agreement should set details of their alternative proposals if they want to change how the party governs in Holyrood.

The SNP’s leader in Westminster, who was visiting the Rutherglen constituency to campaign ahead of a by-election this autumn, said he believed the reason’s behind the deal still held.

The Aberdeen South MP also refused to rule out moving from London to Edinburgh and standing as an MSP in the 2026 election.

Asked whether he agreed there should be a vote on the Bute House Agreement, made in 2021, Mr Flynn said that voters would not “take kindly to us navel-gazing” while they tackled the cost-of-living crisis.

"I think the key thing from my perspective is that we have certainty within Holyrood in terms of how we can govern and govern effectively and the Bute House Agreement helps us to do just that," he said.

"If anyone is advocating something alternate to that they are going to have to lay out their proposals in a lot more detail.

"Because what we do know that through the agreement we can get budgets passed, we can get our policy agenda in place and that certainty is important, not just to us in terms of our legislative agenda but to the public as well.

"I don’t think the public would necessarily take kindly to us navel-gazing at a time when they are having to deal with the real issues of the day, namely the cost-of-living crisis.”

Pressed on the issue, he said it was important that members were allowed to “disagree without being disagreeable”, but again said those who wanted the deal scrapped should bring forward an alternative proposal.

Mr Flynn said: “What I am saying to you and everyone is that agreement was put in place for a reason, those reasons are still very much in play.

"It is not for me to try and offer an alternate, it is for people who are suggesting an alternate to outline what that would look like and perhaps but a little bit more detail into it at this moment in time.”

Mr Flynn’s comments come after Fergus Ewing, Alex Neil and Kate Forbes, said the SNP’s membership should be given a vote on the cooperation deal with the Greens at the party’s conference in October.Members had previously voted 95 per cent in favour of the deal when it was struck, and Humza Yousaf campaigned for the deal to continue during the SNP leadership contest.

In an interview with The Herald earlier this week the SNP’s leader at Westminster admitted he isn’t “in tandem” with the Scottish Greens on some policy issues – but added the pact between the parties is needed to govern Scotland “firmly”. 

He said that "tribal" divisions among parties at Holyrood meant that it was more difficult to govern as a minority administration, such as that seen under former First Minister Alex Salmond.  

In the exclusive interview with The Herald, Mr Flynn said: “The dynamics of Holyrood now are very different from where we were in 2011. The constitutional divide post/2014 is much more tribal. Our partnership with the Greens provides certainty and the opportunity to govern firmly. 

“It’s no secret that on some issues I’m not in tandem with the Greens. We’re there to govern for everyone in Scotland and everyone’s lives are challenging at the moment. 

“There’s a large group of people who are being squeezed all over the place. We need to ensure that what’s coming out of Holyrood is mainly dealing with these concerns.” 

SNP critics of the deal have argued that the Greens have had too much influence in government despite being the smaller party which signed up to the pact.

Some opponents such as Mr Ewing, the former cabinet secretary for rural affairs, have argued that controversial policies such as the reform of gender recognition laws, the deposit return scheme, greater restrictions on fishing under the introduction of highly protected marine areas, have been pushed by the Greens. 

The two latter told policies have currently been put on hold, while Holyrood gender recognition legislation was blocked by the UK Government with a court battle looming over its future.

Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland today, Ms Forbes was if she still supported the agreement and backed a vote, she replied, “Well, I'm a democrat, so I'm always in favour of checking in with the people, checking in with members - and that's the purpose of conference - to ensure that they are continuing to support certain policies.

“And I think government has a duty to its party, obviously, to ensure that we are delivering in a way that's consistent with the membership's interests.”

Asked how she would vote, she replied: “Well, I think what's critical for me is not just the Bute Huse Agreement, but the substance of it. Now, the Bute House Agreement, for example, includes a commitment to HPMAs, and we've seen the government shift from HPMAs, it includes a commitment to the Deposit Return Scheme, and we've seen a shift away from the Deposit Return Scheme.

“So I think just asking ideologically about an agreement is less important than asking what should be in that agreement. Cooperation should always characterise our politics.”

Mr Ewing, the former cabinet secretary for rural affairs, has said it is dawning on SNP leaders that the pact with the Greens was having a negative impact on support for his party.

He said: “It’s increasingly clear that many among the top brass in the SNP now clearly see the deal with the Greens is dragging us down, that it is deplored by business and growing numbers of the public.”