Highlands MSP Fergus Ewing says he will not to be driven out of the SNP as he mulls an appeal over his suspension from the party.
The nationalist MSP and former government minister vowed to “push for change” as he insisted he has no plans to step down from Holyrood or defect to a rival party.
He told the Sunday Mail he will appeal his week-long suspension from the party fold — imposed on him by a majority of his colleagues after a series of high-profile rebellions.
The veteran SNP MSP said: “I’ve consulted with my lawyer and we have a good argument. I was voting with my conscience for my constituents.”
The disciplinary move was launched after the Inverness and Nairn MSP defied the SNP whip in June and supported a vote of no confidence against Scottish Greens co-leader and government minister Lorna Slater.
The former rural economy secretary has also grown increasingly critical of policies supported by his party as well as the power-sharing deal struck with the Scottish Greens, accusing the SNP of “associating with extremists”.
He has also voiced dissent over repeated delays to the SNP commitment to dual the A9 and the A96.
Fergus Ewing: I won’t be hounded out the party I love
Mr Ewing told the newspaper: “I’ve served the SNP and the cause of independence for half-a-century and I’m not going to be hounded out of the party I love.
“We are going through a period at the moment where we’ve chosen the wrong path. We’ve associated ourselves with extremists.
“For most of the last 50 years we were a party that put Scotland first, that was our DNA. But since we have become associated with the Green Party, instead of putting people first we seem to be inflicting pain on them for no gain.”
He accused First Minister Humza Yousaf of following a “manifestly absurd political strategy”, which he says has led to the party pursuing “dud and defective” laws and regulations such as the deposit return scheme, the fishing ban, the short-term let regulations and the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.
Mr Ewing said his late mum – SNP stalwart Winnie Ewing – would have been “egging on” his rebellions “horrified” at the direction the party was heading.
He also used the interview to deny speculation he may retire at the next election, quoting Leonard Cohen.
‘So long as my brain is semi-operational that is all I require’
“I’m only 66. As Leonard Cohen once said, at heart I’m just a young guy with a crazy dream. There’s life in me yet,” he said.
“When 2026 comes along I’ll be younger than my mother was when she stood for the Scottish Parliament.
“I’ve got no plans to retire. A decision will be made but so long as my health is ok and my brain is semi-operational then that is all I require.”
Mr Ewing did say he was not calling for Humza Yousaf to step down as first minister or SNP leader, saying he believed his heart was in the right place.
He said: “It’s not compulsory, if you’re the captain of a ship, to aim deliberately to hit the iceberg – you can change course and the sooner you do, the better it is for everybody.
A spokesperson for the SNP Holyrood Group said: “At a meeting on Wednesday evening, a proposal was carried to suspend Fergus Ewing from the SNP Holyrood Group for a period of one week.”