PATRICK Harvie has warned that the Scottish Greens will quit the Bute House Agreement if the next first minister fails to challenge the UK Government’s veto of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

Speaking ahead of his party’s conference, the Active Travel Minister, said he could not understand “how any candidate who even believes in devolution, let alone independence” would be willing to “roll over” in the face of the Section 35 order.

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So far only Ash Regan has explicitly ruled out court action, saying she believe the Scottish Government will lose. 

Kate Forbes has said she will first take legal advice on any challenge and only proceed if there was a chance of victory and if there was no other way to end the impasse. 

Humza Yousaf had previously been much more bullish about fighting the ban on principle, however, this week he too said it would not be responsible to do so if there was no chance of success.

The Herald:

Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, Mr Harvie was asked if he thought the Greens would still be in government by the end of the month. 

He admitted the party, like others in the administration were “all a little bit unsure right now where things will sit by the end of next week.”

The MSP pointed out that the shared policy programme of the Bute House Agreement included a commitment to reform the Gender Recognition Act and a promise to improve trans healthcare provision, including changes the Gender Identity Services offered on the NHS.

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Mr Harvie said the Greens were not telling the SNP “explicitly how they should vote.” 

“But they do have a right to know, and our members have a right to know that we want to continue within government under the progressive values and the strong policies that were agreed not only between the core leaders of political parties, but the members, overwhelmingly of both those political parties.”

He said the Greens would use their conference to “talk about what some of the candidates have said.” 

Asked if the Gender Recognition Reform Bill was a red line, Mr Harvie said: “I genuinely struggle to understand how any candidate who even believes in devolution, let alone independence could say that one of their first acts would be to roll over and let the UK Government veto fully devolved legislation that's already been passed by an overwhelming cross-party majority.

“We've made it clear that we think that the challenge to this abuse of the section 35 Order is an absolute priority and that the commitment not only to gender recognition reform but to go further and to improve and reform health care for transgender people, to ensure that they are included in the full conversion practices ban,  all of these issues are hugely important. They are written into Bute House Agreement.”

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He said the Greens “Would not accept any Scottish Government simply vetoing parts of the Bute House Agreement.”

Mr Harvie added: “Those policies are in the Bute House Agreement. That's what we're intending to deliver. And if there was a Scottish Government, whether the current first minister hadn't resigned and changed her mind, or whether it's a new first minister, wanting to rip out parts of that agreement, clearly that agreement would come to an end.”

Asked if he thought the Greens would still be in government at the end of the month, he said: “Well, you know, these moments of change within government are disconcerting for everybody, you know, people within government, whatever their role is, whether they're politicians or anybody else, are all a little bit unsure right now, where things will sit by the end of next week.

“I think it's very clear that the SNP membership have a right to make their decision. But after that, other political parties have an equal right and an obligation to be clear about where we will stand.“

The Scottish Greens will discuss the Bute House Agreement at their conference in Clydebank on Saturday.