Lawmakers in Scotland return from the summer recess to an altered political landscape in the Scottish Parliament, as the Green Party joins the ruling SNP in a cooperation agreement that will result in their first ever ministerial appointments in the UK.
First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon is expected to lay out the details of the agreement, which was hashed out this weekend between the two pro-independence parties.
The formal cooperation shifts the balance of power in a parliament where until now the SNP has been just one vote shy of a majority.
Even though the Scottish voting system—which is different from the one in Westminster—was set up to make it hard for any one party to gain a majority, the SNP currently holds 64 out of the 129 seats.
The Green Party has seven seats.
Green Party SMPs Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater are expected to be formally appointed as junior ministers in the Scottish government on Aug. 31.
Sturgeon has said that a majority government would give her a mandate for another referendum on Scottish independence, which would be would be “impossible” for Boris Johnson to ignore, according to The Daily Telegraph.
The UK government, however, has rejected calls for a referendum and insisted that Scottish Parliament lacks the constitutional authority to decide to hold one.
However, authorities in Westminster have suggested that they could agree to a referendum if polling consistently shows 60 percent of Scots want a re-run of the referendum held seven years ago.
If Sturgeon presses ahead with a referendum bill in the Scottish Parliament, the ensuing constitutional showdown with Westminster is likely to be settled in the Supreme Court.
Sturgeon said the “historic cooperation agreement” between the two parties was founded on “a shared drive to work together in the Scottish government to build a greener, fairer, independent Scotland.”
Meanwhile SNP MSP Neil Gray said the deal could see the people of Scotland given the chance to vote again on the issue of independence.
Scottish Tory MPs, however, accuse Sturgeon of “bringing in radicals” to bolster support for another referendum on Scottish independence.
Tory COVID-19 recovery spokesman Murdo Fraser said, “In the middle of the biggest economic crisis in our lifetime, it’s deeply worrying that Nicola Sturgeon is turning to anti-jobs, anti-business extremists.”
He added: “Nicola Sturgeon is taking a nationalist gamble with people’s jobs. She is bringing in radicals, all in the hopes of ramping up her push for another divisive referendum.”
PA contributed to this report.