Fergus Ewing has launched a new attack on Lorna Slater after she suggested Labour's oppositon to independence may not be a 'red line' in post election talks and her party could prop up a Labour government at Holyrood.

Mr Ewing was suspended last month by the SNP group at Holyrood for a week for voting against Ms Slater, the circular economy minister and co-leader of the Scottish Greens, in a vote of no confidence in June over her handling of the now stalled deposit return scheme.

He has been an outspoken critic of the Bute House Agreement which saw the Scottish Greens enter government in 2021 and has blamed the smaller party for several controversial policies pursued by the SNP in power including plans to reform gender recognition legislation and proposals to extend highly protection marine areas. Both policies are currently shelved.

READ MORE: Ash Regan: The SNP leadership candidate who defected to Alba

In a statement released to The Herald today, he launched a new attack on Ms Slater after she suggested in an interview yesterday she would be open to a deal to prop up a Labour government in Edinburgh and that Labour's opposition to independence would not be a 'red line' for the Scottish Greens.

Ms Slater was asked if her party would rule out forming a coalition or co-operation with Scottish Labour in principle over their differing stance on independence.

Appearing on the BBC’s Sunday Show, Ms Slater was pressed if the Greens could "go into government with another party” and “if Labour needed your support to get Anas Sarwar elected as first minister, could you do that or is independence the red line?”

READ MORE: Ewing dismisses rumours he is to defect and makes new attack on Slater

She said: “The Greens are open to conversation wherever we have points in common.

“I think the challenge for Labour is what do they have in common with us, because it’s hard to know what they stand for at the moment.”

Asked again if independence isn’t necessarily a red line”, Ms Slater said: “Absolutely not.”

Mr Ewing took aim at Ms Slater and re-newed his appeal for the SNP to pull out of the Bute House Agreement with the Scottish Greens.

READ MORE: Revealed: The nine SNP MSPs who voted not to suspend Fergus Ewing

In his statement, which primarily focused on dismissing speculation that he may defect to Alba, after his former Holyrood colleague Ash Regan did so on Saturday, he also raised Ms Slater's comments on the BBC's Sunday Show.

READ MORE: Sarwar appeals to SNP voters to back Labour to oust Tories from power

He also underlined that he was appealing against his week long suspension from the SNP at Holyrood and was working to increase membership and support for the SNP.

"I am  presently appealing against my suspension and my lawyer has submitted my appeal," he said.

"I am focusing on continuing working within  the SNP to try to influence the party, and see us regain lost membership, and support," he said.

"To do that we must regain the trust of the people and , in the words of our old slogan 'Put Scotland First.'   

READ MORE: Defiant Fergus Ewing says SNP no longer puts Scotland first

"That means putting our people first - not punishing them with daft policies ill thought out and poorly delivered, like DRS [Deposit Return Scheme] HPMA, Highly Protected Marine Areas] GRR [Gender Reform Recognition]. Short Term Let Registration,  and compulsory ripping out of heating systems to be replaced by ones that are unsuitable."

But he added: " "The common element here is that most of these damaging punitive policies stem from the Green Party - whose co-leader Lorna Slater at the weekend has just announced she would support Labour  in Holyrood if she keeps her ministerial position - and would ditch independence to do so.  

"Ending the Green Deal and the Bute  house agreement is a necessary first major step on the road to SNP recovery.  

"I am working towards that end.   The Slater revelation over the weekend , that  keeping her ministerial post is more important than independence , is in stark contrast to the courage and principled stance taken by Ash Regan MSP , who it should be remembered, gave up her ministerial office to object and campaign against   the Gender Recognition Reform bill."  

Polls suggest that Labour’s surge in support and a fall in favour of the SNP has put both parties neck and neck for Scottish Parliament voting, despite being more than two years away from the next Holyrood election.

But current polling suggests that both the SNP and Labour would need the support of other parties to form the next Scottish government.

On social media this morning Mr Ewing made clear his disappointment at comments made by Humza Yousaf on Ms Regan following her defection to Alba when he said the move was 'no great loss' for the SNP.

"Sad to see such sour and ill founded remarks from the FM regards Ash Regan. who displayed courage on her views  on independence and resigned ministerial office in her opposition to Gender  Reform," he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

"At the same time our FM still supports as his Government  Minister the Green Co-Leader who said she would readily ditch independence for continued Ministerial office  - under Labour!"

The Scottish Greens declined to comment on Mr Ewing's remarks on Ms Slater.