Humza Yousaf, the leader of Scottish National Party government, (left) and Türkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
UK government threatens Scottish leader after his meeting with Turkish president. 10 Downing Street, says Scotland's Yousaf have been at odds over calls for cease-fire in Gaza, writes Turkish Anadolu Agency.
British Foreign Secretary David Cameron has threatened to withdraw Foreign Office support for Scottish Cabinet ministers after Scotland’s first minister met the Turkish president without the presence of UK officials.
In a letter to the Scottish National Party (SNP) government, Cameron said it was a breach of protocol for Humza Yousaf to have discussed Gaza and other matters with Türkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the COP28 climate change summit in Dubai on Dec. 1. The two leaders share common views on Gaza, where Israeli air and ground attacks have killed over 18,000 Palestinians, and have both called for an immediate cease-fire.
Belittling Cameron’s letter, Yousaf dismissed the threat of the UK government revoking support for Scotland’s overseas activities.
“First of all, let’s be clear – the approach from Lord Cameron is really petty and, frankly, misguided. Scotland is the part of the UK, outside of London, that has attracted the most foreign direct investment for eight years in a row, that happens because the Scottish government’s international engagement is valued (and) has impact,” he told reporters.
Cameron said he had warned the SNP’s external affairs secretary, saying he would take a harder approach to the breach.
“The absence of an FCDO [Foreign Office] official at this meeting contravenes the protocols in our guidance on FCDO support to devolved government ministers’ overseas visits,” the letter shared by the BBC read, speaking of the devolved Scottish SNP government, which is often at odds with the Conservative UK government.
The foreign secretary said the meeting breached devolution protocols as a UK official was not given “sufficient advance notice” of the location of the meeting to be able to attend.
Yousaf said the issue could have been resolved privately, had Cameron approached the Scottish government.
“To threaten to curtail that, to stop that international engagement ... from the elected Scottish government from an unelected lord (Cameron) – I think is misguided and petty,” he added.
This summer, James Cleverly, then-foreign secretary, issued a similar warning when Yousaf met the Icelandic prime minister without UK officials present.
Yousaf has been highly critical of the UK government’s full support to Israel and its attacks on the Gaza Strip.
The Scottish leader’s in-laws were trapped in Gaza for about a month before being evacuated and returning to Scotland. The British government’s reluctance to meet or discuss the matter with Yousaf at the time was heavily criticized in Scotland.
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