Humza Yousaf has tried to build bridges with the oil and gas sector by attacking Labour’s plan for a longer, higher windfall tax on energy companies.

The First Minister said the SNP would oppose the levy, which he claimed would be used solely to help build nuclear power plants in England.

In a speech in Aberdeen, Mr Yousaf said: “Don’t get me wrong, we support a windfall tax, but Labour’s plan… is plain wrong and will cost tens of thousands of jobs.

“Once again the workers of the North East are being asked to pay the price because of Westminster’s economic and energy mismanagement.

“As ever, when Westminster parties need to find cash they look to Scotland.

He added: “Let’s be abundantly clear. The SNP believes in a just transition.

“There is no justice in a transition that throws north-east workers on the scrap heap.

“The SNP will not let the north-east go the way that coal and mining towns went under Thatcher – that is exactly what Labour is threatening to do.”

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He said Labour was making promises "just as right wing as the Conservatives", adding: "The wolf hasn’t even bothered to put on the sheep’s clothing. It’s just a stuck on a red rosette.”

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross accused Mr Yousaf of “breath-taking hypocrisy” and of “masquerading as a friend of Scotland’s oil and gas industry”.

The Tories, who hold their conference in Aberdeen next week, have relentlessly attacked the SNP-Green Government over its plans for a just transition to a Net Zero emissions economy.

The Conseravtives claim the SNP-Green plans could cost thousands of jobs in the North East, where the Tories are defending half their six Scottish seats at the general election.

The SNP say there should be a presumption against new oil and gas licensing, subject to evidence, while the Greens want a complete ban to help the climate.

The Greens also want the current windfall levy on energy company profits - set at 75% in 2022 after the shock caused by Russia invading Ukraine - to be far tougher.

Labour has proposed increasing the windfall tax to 78% and keeping it in place until 2029 to raise around £11billion to help pay for its green energy plans.

However hundreds of companies and business people last week warned the rise would have a “cliff-edge” effect on investment and cost tens of thousands of jobs.

Despite the backlash, Sir Keir Starmer stuck by the plan in a speech on Sunday.

He told Scottish Labour’s conference in Glasgow that it was a “tough decision”, admitting: ”It's not good enough to say we’ll do something popular”.

He tried to reassure the oil and gas sector by saying that North Sea operations “will continue for decades to come”.

However the North Sea industry body Offshore Energy UK (OEUK) has said it will hold a series of “emergency summits” this week in response to Labour’s plan. 

OEUK chief executive, David Whitehouse, said: “We remain deeply concerned about what Labour’s proposals could do to our people.

"If we can’t get companies to invest here, there are no jobs. It’s that simple.” 

Urging people to vote SNP at the general election to ensure Scotland benefited from the country’s “green energy revolution”, Mr Yousaf warned Labour and the Tories would send the new wealth to Westminster, as happened with oil and gas revenues.

“A vote for the SNP is a vote to control our energy future,” he said.

Suggesting any sovereign wealth fund created after independence would be ringfenced for the green economy, he said: “It is Scotland’s energy and it must first and foremost benefit the people and communities of Scotland.

“That means that in an energy rich Scotland, people shouldn't be paying some of the highest energy bills in Europe during this cost of living crisis.

“It means re-investing Scotland’s energy wealth back into our communities, rather than see it flow to Westminster.

“It means every penny of taxation that is still to come from the North Sea should be reinvested into growing the green economy.”

READ MORE: Oil and gas chiefs to hold 'crisis talks' over Labour's windfall tax

Speaking to the media later, Mr Yousaf said he wanted to maintain the windfall tax at the current 75% level, but could not say when that would end.

He said the SNP still planned a sovereign wealth fund and “every penny” had been a turn of phrase, not a literal commitment.

Mr Ross said: “Humza Yousaf is displaying breath-taking hypocrisy masquerading as a friend of Scotland’s oil and gas industry when he and the SNP have abandoned it at every opportunity.

“The SNP have a long-standing ‘presumption against’ policy on all new oil and gas licences, they oppose Rosebank, they were the first party to call for a windfall tax and it’s only a few months since Humza Yousaf was proclaiming the end of the industry in a speech in New York.

“Labour’s plans for oil and gas would be catastrophic for North-East communities, the wider Scottish economy and our energy security – but the SNP are equally committed to turning off the taps in the North Sea straight away.

“Humza Yousaf must think people in the North-East are buttoned up the back if they’re to believe the SNP is a friend of the oil and gas industry, when his partnership with the extremist Greens is predicated on shutting it down.”  

Mr Yousaf said Mr Ross was “wrong”.