Humza Yousaf has distanced himself from Nicola Sturgeon by shelving three of her most controversial policies as he mapped out his priorities for the next three years.

The first minister announced delays to the Deposit Return Scheme, the alcohol bill to prohibit drinks marketing and the planned NHS-style National Care Service.

His decision to put the brakes on three Sturgeon policies appears to be an attempt to shed his image as a “continuity” first minister following the arrest of her husband amid a police investigation into party finances, according to The Times.

In a speech to parliament yesterday, Yousaf said his government would provide a “fresh start for Scotland”.

You can read his full policy platform here.

Back to the drawing board

One of its key moves was to postpone the introduction of a bottle and can recycling scheme as part of a package of olive branches to the business community.

While he remains committed to the deposit return scheme (DRS), Mr Yousaf said he has listened to industry concerns.

As a result the introduction of the system will now come in March next year instead of this August.

He also confirmed plans to ban alcohol advertising would be withdrawn and industry asked to consult on drawing up new guidelines.

The “back to the drawing board” move is part of a “reset” of the relationship between ministers and business.

The start of a new relationship?

A new forum for business leaders to advise government on how to better support companies is being set-up and is to report back to the SNP leader by the summer.

Russell Borthwick, Chief Executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are encouraged to see economic growth as one of the three main pillars in the proposals set out by the new First Minister today, with particular emphasis on supporting business and maximising trade.

“Furthermore, there’s recognition that the North East of Scotland must be at the heart of this strategy — capitalising on the industrial, supply chain and employment opportunities which will stem from energy transition.

“However, our members harbour serious concerns about the cart-before-horse approach in terms of signalling even higher taxes upon Scottish workers at a time when serious questions are being raised about value-for-money when it comes to public service delivery by Holyrood.

“The very real risk of further tax hikes could make Scotland a less competitive environment in which to do business, or to attract people to live and work at a time when we’re crying out for more skills in key sectors.

“We welcome that the Deposit Return Scheme has been paused and maintain that any proposals will require fundamental changes before they are brought back for consultation. Likewise, we are pleased to see that the Scottish Government has heeded our calls to scrap its proposed restrictions on alcohol advertising which were both disproportionate and unworkable.

“While there is a marked change in tone from the new First Minister, we will be looking for a strong partnership on delivery before we can say for certain that this is an a new-look Scottish Government that really means business.”

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