Party leaders set to face off in Aberdeen debate


HUMZA Yousaf has formally agreed to an Aberdeen face off with Tory leader Douglas Ross and Labour Anas Sarwar over the future of offshore jobs and energy.

Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce has been asked to facilitate the debate, and planning is now underway.

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The leaders are locked in a tight contest to convince voters who has the best vision for the region. Energy, offshore jobs and the future of green technology are crucial topics in the general election.

In a letter to Moray MP Mr Ross, reported by The Press and Journal, the first minister
said the SNP government has “clear support” for the oil and gas sector.

Accepting the invitation to debate, Mr Yousaf added: “I will set out that the Scottish Government’s focus remains on meeting Scotland’s energy security needs, reducing emissions in line with climate commitments and ensuring a just transition for our skilled and valued workforces as North Sea oil and gas resources inevitably decline.”

Mr Ross said he is “ready to stand up” for north-east jobs. Tories complain the SNP is wrong to oppose new oilfields such as Rosebank and say Labour risks thousands of jobs – charges both parties reject.

Speaking on the ChamberTalk podcast this week, Mr Sarwar said: “I imagine it’s for other people to decide when any election debates will be and where they’ll be, but am I confident in our position? Am I ready to debate any of these politicians, any time? Absolutely. Again (as I said in parliament), simply bring it.”

Russell Borthwick, Chief Executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are delighted to be facilitating this crucial debate which is of fundamental importance to the future economy of the North-east and many other parts of the UK where the energy sector is a major employer.

“Humza Yousaf, Douglas Ross and Anas Sarwar have all now stated publicly that they want this debate to happen, and we look forward to working with all parties to finalise the finer details.

“All have laudable ambitions for the sector and talk about a transition which will be just for our communities – but all have undermined their plans with rhetoric and fiscal policy which has damaged the energy sector.

“A focussed debate on this issue is long overdue and we want to hear the substance of how jobs will be protected and investment will be brought forward to support both energy security and transition.”

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