Humza Yousaf warned he faces ‘humiliating defeat’ in legal battle

Sturgeon: Some gender Bill opponents using women’s rights to hide transphobia

Humza Yousaf has been warned by his former leadership rival Ash Regan he faces a “humiliating defeat” in his legal battle against the blocking of controversial gender reforms. The Scottish First Minister yesterday confirmed a judicial review is to be sought after the UK Government torpedoed the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.

But Mr Yousaf’s decision to press ahead with the legal challenge has led to SNP infighting.

Ms Regan, who came third in the leadership race, today insisted the Bill is “deeply unpopular” among Scots and warned of the eye-watering cost to taxpayers of the legal bid.

The SNP MSP urged Mr Yousaf to “re-think” as she highlighted how the party had already haemorrhaged tens of thousands of members.

The former Scottish Government minister said: “The decision to challenge the Section 35 will result in a humiliating defeat.

“The GRR is deeply unpopular amongst Scottish voters and court action will cost a vast amount of taxpayers’ money.

“Losing 30k party members over this policy means it’s time for a re-think.”

SNP MP Joanna Cherry has also hit out at Mr Yousaf over the legal challenge.

She said: “I cannot understand why the Scottish Government is taking legal action it’s unlikely to win rather than sorting out the problems with the GRR Bill at home.

“Reform could be effected in Scotland without breaching equality or human rights law if there was the will so to do.”

The Bill was passed by MSPs in Holyrood late last year but it was blocked by Westminster in January.

The UK Government argued the legislation, which was introduced to simplify and speed up the process trans people go through to obtain legal recognition in their preferred gender, impacted UK-wide equality laws.

Mr Yousaf insisted legal action is “now our only means of defending our Parliament’s democracy from the Westminster veto”.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday that the UK Government had taken “very careful and considered advice” on the issue before acting.

The move sets up another court clash between the Scottish Government and the UK Government.

Former Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last year lost a battle in the Supreme Court over whether Holyrood could stage its own independence referendum.

The Scottish Tories accused Mr Yousaf of launching the legal bid to distract attention from the SNP’s woes after a bruising leadership contest and amid a police investigation into the party’s finances.

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Meghan Gallacher said: “This is a painfully transparent attempt by Humza Yousaf to divert attention from the civil war engulfing the SNP and the huge question marks over the party’s finances.

“Desperate times call for desperate measures, so the beleaguered First Minister has reached for the nationalists’ playbook and is manufacturing grievance with the UK Government.”

Ms Gallacher insisted the vast majority of Scots oppose the “reckless” legislation, saying it “compromises the safety of women and allows 16-year-olds to legally change gender”.

She added: “Humza Yousaf has chosen to ignore public opinion – not to mention the views of his two SNP leadership rivals – to pursue confrontation with Westminster and appease the extremist Greens in his administration.”

Ms Somerville said the use of Section 35 powers by the UK Government represented “an unprecedented challenge to the Scottish Parliament’s ability to legislate on clearly devolved matters”, and “risks setting a dangerous constitutional precedent”.

She added: “In seeking to uphold the democratic will of the Parliament and defend devolution, Scottish ministers will lodge a petition for a judicial review of the Secretary of State for Scotland’s decision.”

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