1 of 2 | Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf was en route to London on Monday ahead of his first meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak amid a series of issues over which the two countries are at odds. File Photo by Robert Perry/EPA-EFE
April 24 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will hold talks with Scotland's new First Minister Humza Yousaf in London on Monday in their first meeting since Yousaf took office.
The pair are expected to discuss a series of disputes including last week's move to sue the government over its veto of legislation that would allow Scottish people to change their gender.
Yousaf petitioned Scotland's supreme court for a judicial review Wednesday called the challenge to London's veto of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill "our only means of defending our Parliament's democracy from the Westminster veto."
Sunak has countered that the British government had taken "very careful and considered advice" on the issue before blocking the legislation.
Yousaf is also expected to tackle Sunak over a double-digit duty hike on Scotch Whisky announced in last month's budget that he said was "unacceptable" and "blatantly unfair" and in breach of the Conservative government's election manifesto pledge to review tax on whisky.
"The decision to, however, to increase tax by more than 10%, at the same time as refusing to provide the energy-bill support the rest of the drinks industry receives, puts the industry -- and Scotland -- at a competitive disadvantage," Yousaf said.
"That means less investment and puts jobs at risk here in Scotland. That is simply unacceptable."
The hike means tax will make up 75%, or $14.18, of the $18.93 average cost of a bottle of whisky. Scotland's whisky industry employs 42,000 people.
The Scottish government is also blaming Westminster for the postponement of the start of a can and bottle deposit return scheme designed to reduce littering and boost recycling until March next year. Economy Minister Lorna Slater said the delay was caused by London not granting an exemption to post-Brexit legislation regulating trade within Britain.
The Sunak-Yousaf summit comes after a calamitous couple of months for the SNP, which has championed independence since its formation in the mid-1930s, sparked by the sudden resignation of the party's longest-serving First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in February.
A week after leaving office, Sturgeon's husband and party chief executive Peter Murrell was arrested in a raid on the couple's Glasgow home and held in police detention overnight as part of a police investigation into the party's finances. He was released without charge. That was swiftly followed by the arrest and resignation of party treasurer Colin Beattie, who resigned after he was also released under investigation but without being charged.