Humza Yousaf’s successor has been urged to “totally rule out” a further pact with the Scottish Greens by former first minister Alex Salmond.

The one-time SNP leader, who now heads the rival pro-independence Alba Party, said the ejection of the Greens from the Scottish Government by Mr Yousaf was “long overdue”.

The decision to end the powersharing deal between the SNP and the Scottish Greens brought about Mr Yousaf’s downfall as First Minister, leading to Monday’s resignation.

He accepted he had underestimated the reaction from the Greens, who were so angered by the move they announced they would vote against Mr Yousaf in a vote of no confidence in his leadership.

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The First Minister, after considering his future over the weekend, announced on Monday he would be stepping down, staying on only until a successor is found.

Mr Salmond said Alba’s Holyrood leader and sole MSP Ash Regan could have provided a “helping hand” to Mr Yousaf, potentially providing the support he needed to win a vote of confidence.

The Herald: Humza YousafHumza Yousaf (Image: (Andrew Milligan/PA))

The former first minister – who stepped down in 2014 after the independence referendum – also insisted he was “sad” that Mr Yousaf had resigned.

Mr Salmond said: “In my view he should have accepted the helping hand offered by Ash Regan from Alba, another independence party, and faced down his internal SNP critics.

“His sacking of the Greens may have been abrupt but in reality it was long overdue.

“Now we shall never know if, liberated from the hapless Green ministers and policy disasters, Humza could have become a very different First Minister.”

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With Mr Yousaf’s successor likely to have to win support from the seven Green MSPs at Holyrood before becoming Scotland’s next first minister, Mr Salmond said that leaves his former party in “a ridiculous position with the Green Party dictating who the first minister can and can’t be”.

He added: “The SNP grassroots should take clear lessons from this and apply them during the upcoming leadership contest.

“The Green Party, an outfit who do not regard independence as any sort of top priority, are blatantly attempting to choose the SNP leader.

The Herald: Ash Regan Ash Regan (Image: (Jane Barlow/PA))

“They were even going to vote for a Tory unionist motion to unseat a nationalist First Minister just because they were in a fit of pique.

“Their behaviour over the last few days should totally rule them out as coalition partners to any self-respecting SNP activist.”

However a deal with Mr Salmond’s Alba Party may have proved to be unpalatable to some in the SNP, with long-serving MP Pete Wishart saying on Sunday that the former first minister “wants to exert influence over our Government and he must be told quite clearly that can never, ever happen.”

Fellow SNP MP Stewart McDonald was more blunt, saying a deal with Mr Salmond “would go down like a bucket of cold sick with voters”.

Mr Yousaf, as he announced his resignation at Bute House on Monday, stressed he was not willing to “do deals with whomever simply for retaining power”.