UK’s David Cameron scolds Scottish leader Humza Yousaf over Erdogan meeting

Cameron says a meeting between Scotland’s Hamza Yousaf and Turkish leader on the sidelines of COP28 breached protocol because a UK official was not present.

UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs David Cameron attends a NATO foreign ministers meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, on November 28, 2023. (Photo by SIMON WOHLFAHRT / AFP)
UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron [Simon Wohlfahrt/AFP]

Britain’s foreign secretary has warned he could withdraw cooperation with Scottish ministers if they hold future foreign meetings without United Kingdom representation after Scotland’s first minister Humza Yousaf met Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

David Cameron issued the threat after Yousaf met Erdogan on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai to discuss the Gaza war.

Cameron, in a letter to the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) government, said the meeting breached protocol because a UK government representative was not also present.

A spokesperson for Yousaf said a UK official had been extended an invite, but could not make the visit.

Yousaf said the meeting did not broach any topics that had not already been discussed and called Cameron “petty” for issuing the rebuke.

Cameron wrote in his letter that, should there be future protocol breaches, he would pull foreign office support from Scottish ministerial meetings overseas.

“We will also need to consider the presence of Scottish government offices in UK government posts,” Cameron added.

While the UK government oversees the kingdom’s foreign affairs to ensure it presents a united front, Scotland is free to independently engage on international issues within designated policy areas. Still, questions of diplomatic protocol have sometimes sparked contention.

Yousaf has been highly critical of the UK government’s full support of Israel and its military invasion of the Gaza Strip.

The divide grew when the Scottish leader’s in-laws were trapped in Gaza for about a month before being evacuated and returning to Scotland. The British government’s reluctance to meet or discuss the matter with Yousaf at the time was heavily criticised in Scotland.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies