Greens want to pull plug on North Sea oil industry, Sturgeon is warned

Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater - Green Party /PA 
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Nicola Sturgeon has been warned that handing Green MSPs jobs in her Government would spell "disaster" for Scottish businesses, as it emerged that a frontrunner to become a minister believes the oil and gas sector should be shut down as soon as next year.

Lorna Slater, the Green co-leader, claimed the SNP’s approach to North Sea oil and gas extraction amounted to "maximum destroying of the planet" and said there was a need to "pick a date" to entirely kill off the industry.

In an obscure online interview, filmed late last year and unearthed by The Telegraph, Ms Slater suggested the timeframe for ending a sector that supports 100,000 jobs could be "two or five years".

Meanwhile, Ms Sturgeon’s spokesman yesterday left the door ajar to potential income tax hikes on the middle classes as part of a possible power-sharing deal with the Greens, just weeks after the SNP was elected on a manifesto promise to freeze rates and bands for five years.

While he said he "did not forsee" the SNP abandoning its tax pledge, he admitted there would be an "ongoing dialogue" with the Greens and added: "we're not going to give a running commentary."

The Greens, who back large hikes in income tax for wealthier Scots and replacing council tax with a levy based on property values that would also drive up bills for the better-off, insisted their radical manifesto would "set the context" for power-sharing talks.

Ms Sturgeon has signalled her willingness to compromise to strike a "groundbreaking" deal with the Greens, and has confirmed their MSPs could be handed ministerial roles under a formal pact.

Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, warned yesterday that allowing Greens into Government would cement the impression that the SNP held the private sector in contempt.

"Instead of bringing in business people who understand how to create jobs, it’s the Greens who may get a seat around the First Minister’s table," he said.

"A Green party that doesn’t even believe in economic growth and is willing to risk the tens of thousands of jobs supported by our oil and gas industry.

"A nationalist coalition with the Greens is a disaster for anyone who was hoping to see an end to the SNP’s anti-business approach."

It is understood that Scottish business representatives have been privately alarmed at the prospect of Green MSPs wielding power, due to their unapologetic anti-capitalist agenda and far-left policies.

In the interview filmed with a PhD politics student, which has been viewed fewer than 100 times, Ms Slater made clear that she believed the SNP were far too cautious in areas such as the environment and independence.

She called for the pound to be ditched immediately if Scotland was to leave the UK and criticised the SNP for planning to maintain the "terrible" monarchy and a "neoliberal economic system".

"Far from that being a cautious or sensible thing to do, we think that that’s pretty near suicidal," Ms Slater said.

"Continuing to operate the economy the way it has been run is morally wrong because it leaves so many people suffering, and dangerous because it means that we are destroying our own life support system on this planet."

She also claimed voters were "fed up" with the SNP for "not making actual practical plans" for dealing with the climate crisis, saying they merely "set targets then walk away from them".

On the monarchy, she said she "didn't see any point" of the Queen and claimed hereditary power was "part of the problem". She added: "I think it’s a terrible way to represent your country so I’m not in favour.”

However, Ms Slater, who is Canadian, outlined just three reasons that had inspired her determination to break up the 314-year-old union: nuclear weapons, Westminster’s first-past-the-post voting system, and the existence of the House of Lords.

Speaking yesterday to the BBC, Ms Slater highlighted a cross-party deal in New Zealand where Greens had control of the climate change and housing portfolios as an "interesting model to look at".

Liam Kerr, energy spokesman for the Scottish Tories, said the SNP’s "potential coalition" with the Greens "is looking more reckless by the day".

He added: "The Greens don’t hide their outright disdain for the North Sea oil and gas sector. Countless other business sectors too will be worried at the economic damage the Greens could cause.

"Lorna Slater’s ideas are downright dangerous. In the middle of a pandemic, the Greens co-leader would wreck our economy and tear our country and its institutions apart."

A spokesman for the Scottish Greens said it was "no secret" that the Greens had a different vision of independence to the SNP.

He added: "But what an independent Scotland should look like is a discussion for the debate ahead of the referendum, and has no relevance to cooperation talks on the governance of Scotland for the next five years.

"The Scottish Greens manifesto sets the context for the talks, which includes plans to invest in renewable energy, public transport, warm homes and restoring nature."