THE SCOTTISH Conservatives have tabled a vote of no confidence in Lorna Slater, over the troubled Deposit Return Scheme. 

The Greens described the move as shameless, pointing out that details of the motion had been published at the same time as the Commons debate on Boris Johnson’s multiple contempts of parliament. 

Last week, Circularity Scotland (CSL), the industry-led body set up to administer the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) was on the brink of collapse after backers pulled funding, blaming "political uncertainty" after the scheme was delayed for another two and a half years. 

READ MORE: Circularity Scotland set to collapse as drinks firms pull funding

The firm has sent home staff and warned them that they may not be paid for the rest of the month. 

It was Ms Slater, the Circular Economy minister, who told MSPs earlier this month that the Scottish Government had been "left with no other option" than to push back until October 2025 "at the earliest" because of conditions imposed by the UK Government.

Tory ministers made clear the Scottish Government would only be given the necessary exemption to the UK Internal Market Act if they made a number of substantial changes.

This included removing glass from the scope of the scheme and a demand that ministers in Edinburgh agree to standardise the deposit charge and labelling with the other UK schemes.

Ms Slater said the lack of detail around conditions laid down by Whitehall, including not knowing what the deposit charge would need to be, meant the scheme could not go ahead as planned.

That was despite CSL insisting that the scheme could go ahead next March despite the UK Government's demands.

READ MORE: LETTERS: Who will carry the can for Circularity Scotland failure?

The motion of no confidence has been tabled by Tory shadow net zero secretary Liam Kerr, with a vote likely before parliament breaks for recess next week. 

The MSP said Ms Slater was “out of her depth as a minister.”

He added: “I don’t say this lightly, but I struggle to think of a minister who has struggled so much in their brief in the seven years I’ve been in the Scottish Parliament.

“Her handling of the Deposit Return Scheme has been shambolic from day one, with her refusal to engage with business or heed their warnings that her plans were unworkable.

“She knew for years that an exemption from the UK Internal Market Act was required, yet only applied for it at the eleventh hour.

“Then, when the UK Government sought to work with her to help create a viable scheme, she resorted to anger, division and blame, rather than the constructive, collaborative approach that could have yielded a working scheme.”

He also criticised Ms Slater’s decision to charter a boat to Rum rather than use the “substandard CalMac ferry service.”

The minister’s private hire of the boat cost £1,200, substantially more than the £9.40 cost of a return ticket on the ferry. 

“The First Minister has stated that he does not agree and has full confidence in Lorna Slater. But I call on all MSPs of all parties to get behind this motion,” Mr Kerr added.

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Scottish Green co-leader, Patrick Harvie said: “This is a cynical and shameless political stunt by an increasingly desperate and disgraced Tory Party that has purposely sabotaged the Deposit Return Scheme that they themselves voted for and that was on the brink of going live.

"This is a clear attempt to distract from their many failings.

“Lorna has been at the forefront of delivering a fairer, greener and better Scotland. She has overseen a record investment in wildlife and nature, an end to new incineration and a ban on the worst single-use plastics. She always puts Scotland first. 

“I am proud to work with Lorna in her capacity as a party co-leader and as a Minister.

"The politics that she represents are everything that the Tories rail against, so it is no wonder that they are attacking her in the spiteful, and often misogynistic way they have done for months.

“Only the Tories would have the audacity to move a motion of no confidence in the leader of another party on the very same evening that MPs were voting to seal the fate of their lying, duplicitous and shamed former Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“Do they really think they can divert attention away from the partygate scandal that easily, even as a video is still trending online from their Christmas celebrations at Tory HQ, taken while people were unable to say a proper goodbye to loved ones?"