Douglas Ross has urged Humza Yousaf and Anas Sarwar to take part in a debate on the future of oil and gas.

It follows heated exchanges during Thursday’s First Minister’s Questions over Labour’s plans to bring in what they have described as a “proper” windfall tax on the profits of energy giants.

Both First Minister Humza Yousaf and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said they could not wait to campaign against each other at the next general election.

That prompted Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce to tweet all three party leaders to say it is willing to host a debate on the issue, asking: “How does next month sound?”

READ MORE: Yousaf warns Labour will 'raid the north east' with oil windfall tax

Mr Ross has now told his opponents he is “fully behind” the idea.

“The North Sea oil and gas industry is crucial not just to the 100,000 skilled workers it employs – predominantly in the north east – but to Scotland’s entire economy and energy security,” he said.

“That’s why I’m urging Humza Yousaf and Anas Sarwar to join me in a debate on the future of the sector, which has a key role to play in a just and managed transition to net zero.

“Behind the desperate spin and counter-spin of the SNP and Labour, the reality is both parties want to turn off the taps in the North Sea now.

“Only the Scottish Conservatives are standing up for the jobs of skilled workers in the north east.

“Humza Yousaf has some nerve criticising Keir Starmer’s reckless plans, when the SNP have a presumption against all new North Sea developments, opposed Rosebank and Cambo and were the first party to propose a windfall tax.”

Mr Ross also claimed Mr Yousaf “passing himself off as a friend” of the industry was “an insult” to the communities around it.

READ MORE: FMQs sketch: All's well that's oil wells

Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said: “Labour will continue to engage with the industry and its workers to ensure jobs are protected, but no-one is buying Douglas Ross’s desperate attempt to pretend his out of touch party has workers’ interests at heart.

“Labour has a plan to lower bills for good, create 50,000 clean energy jobs in Scotland, and set up a publicly-owned GB Energy company right here.

“Oil and gas will remain a part of our energy system for decades to come and the immense skills and expertise of the industry’s workers are at the heart of Labour’s plans."

An SNP spokesperson said: “The First Minister will be delighted to debate the energy future of the north east and Scotland in Aberdeen, and promote our proud record of defending jobs and communities.

“Between them, Tory and Labour governments at Westminster have squandered £400 billion of North Sea revenues and invested not a single penny for long-term benefit – in stark contrast to independent Norway, which has built up the biggest sovereign wealth fund in the world from its oil and gas wealth.

“The Tories have a long and dishonourable record of throwing industries and communities in Scotland on the scrap heap – from coal and steel to fishing – and Labour have dumped their green prosperity plan.

“The SNP Government, by contrast, is pledged to deliver a just transition for the north east, backed up by our £500 million Just Transition Fund.”

Earlier this month, Labour said they would hike the government’s existing windfall tax from 75 to 78% and extend the levy by a year to 2029.

Crucially, they would also close what Rachel Reeves has described as “loopholes” in the existing windfall tax, potentially scrapping the current investment allowance which sees oil and gas producers get 91p in tax relief for every £1 they invest.

The party said the proposals would raise £10.8 billion over five years, helping to pay for a £23.7 billion uplift in green spending over five years.

But the industry has warned it could lead to tens of thousands of job losses.

During FMQs, Mr Sarwar disputed that claim.

He said that every time Labour has “made a change to help working people”, warnings have been made by industry that have not come true, pointing to moves in 1997 to introduce a minimum wage and a windfall tax.

Mr Sarwar told MSPs that he “can’t wait” to put the choice between the SNP and Labour to the Scottish people at the looming election.

“Firmly the SNP [is] on the side of energy giants making billions, and Labour trying to bring down people’s bills and on the side of working people,” he said.

READ MORE: Labour windfall tax hike 'could see 100,000 jobs lost'

The First Minister replied: “Can I remind Anas Sarwar when he talks about people in cost of living crisis he has now flip-flopped his way to being in a position where he believes in retaining the cap on child benefits but wants to lift the cap on bankers bonuses.

“It is utterly outrageous.”

Mr Yousaf added that he also “can’t wait” to go head to head with Labour at the election, particularly in the North East. Mr Sarwar was seen gesturing at the First Minister and telling him to “bring it on”.