John Swinney no confidence vote: why is Nicola Sturgeon's deputy facing motion - and when will it take place?

Douglas Ross described John Swinney’s position as untenable
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The Scottish Conservatives will push ahead with a vote of no confidence in John Swinney on “Tuesday or Wednesday”.

The deputy first minister has been criticised by the Tories over the Scottish Government’s delay in handing over legal advice.

The proposed vote prompted the Scottish Government to release the legal advice in stages.

John Swinney looks set to face a vote of no confidence this week (Getty Images)John Swinney looks set to face a vote of no confidence this week (Getty Images)
John Swinney looks set to face a vote of no confidence this week (Getty Images)

Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross said Mr Swinney’s “position has become untenable”.

Why is John Swinney facing a vote of no confidence?

Douglas Ross has claimed that Mr Swinney is personally responsible for the delay in the release of documents relating to Alex Salmond’s successful legal challenge of the government’s harassment complaints procedure, which led to the former first minister being awarded more than £500,000.

Mr Ross said the Deputy First Minister “manipulated the flow of information”.

“He claimed that the documents showed the government did not ignore advice from counsel, which was contradicted by the very documents he published,” he said.

“John Swinney’s position has become untenable. He has disrespected the Scottish Parliament repeatedly, blatantly withheld evidence from a parliamentary inquiry and tried to mislead the public.

“He has had more than enough chances to be transparent but his actions are getting more murkier and inexcusable as the weeks go on.”

He added: “We are proceeding with the vote of no confidence.

“I urge all opposition parties to support it to uphold the reputation of the Scottish Parliament and to ensure that, in future, votes of the Parliament are respected by the Scottish Government.”

How has the SNP and the Scottish Government responded?

The SNP has poured scorn on the promise of a vote of no confidence.

A spokesperson for the ruling party said: “just when you thought it wasn’t possible for the Scottish Tories to stoop any lower, Douglas Ross still manages. The Tories are showing their true colours – this is nothing but a political game to them and instead of letting due process take place, they’d rather be hysterical and opportunistic.

“There have been thousands of documents handed over to the committee including legal documents. The FM spent an entire day at committee answering detailed questions and many more hours at FMQs. Every question has been answered.

“When are Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, Matt Hancock and others going to face even an iota of this kind of scrutiny over misleading Westminster and MPs from the parliament that Douglas Ross actually sits in?

“This is really desperate stuff from the Scottish Tories who believe there should be different rules for their political masters in London.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “As the Deputy First Minister has made very clear, given the exceptional circumstances in which the integrity of the Government, Parliament and other key institutions were being challenged, we have taken unprecedented steps to provide the committee with the information it has requested in line with data protection, confidentiality and legal restrictions – and we have released a huge amount of documentation including legal advice documents.”

He added: “We have now disclosed all of the formal written advice notes received from external counsel during the judicial review, as well as a number of other relevant previously legally privileged documents

“As the Deputy First Minister has set out, these documents, taken in their entirety, utterly disprove the conspiracy theory that the Scottish Government delayed the concession of the judicial review or ignored advice from counsel.

“The information in the documents is consistent with information already shared with the committee in evidence.”

When is the vote of no confidence?

The Scottish Conservatives have indicated that a vote will go ahead “on Tuesday or Wednesday”.