The Scottish Tories are urging new First Minister John Swinney to put the interests of rural Scotland at the heart of the Scottish Government’s agenda.

Tory rural affairs spokesperson Rachael Hamilton said the SNP have ignored the needs of rural communities for ‘far too long’ and the issues had escalated when ‘the extremist Greens’ were brought into government.

Ms Hamilton said the First Minister was ‘sat around the cabinet table’ for 16 of the last 17 years the SNP has been in power ‘and failed to challenge any decisions that were to the detriment of rural Scotland’s local services and economy.’

She added that he was responsible for slashing £33 million from the agriculture budget to try and fix the black hole he had created in Scotland’s finances.

Ms Hamilton also called for the Scottish Government to restore £45m worth of funding to the rural budget and publish the rural support plan; give the green light to gene-editing technology for Scottish farmers; deliver lifeline ferry services; re-commit to dualling key roads; reverse the ban on installing woodburning stoves in new homes; urgently address the rural housing crisis and rule out any prospect of an agreement with the Greens.

She said: “John Swinney must use his new role as First Minister to finally reset the SNP’s relationship with rural Scotland.

“He was sat around the Cabinet table as his party nodded through decisions to the detriment of those living and working in our rural communities.

“Their priorities have been ignored for far too long and those issues only escalated when the extremist Greens were brought into government.

“Now that the Bute House Agreement has collapsed – which was welcomed among rural Scotland – John Swinney needs to go further.

“That is why I am demanding the latest SNP leader finally shows he understands the needs of those communities through his policy agenda. He should restore the tens of millions that have been slashed from the rural budget and finally give farmers the green light to use gene-editing technology, as well as publishing the rural support plan as soon as possible.”

However, a spokesperson for the Scottish Government responded: “We are fully committed to ensuring that all areas of Scotland can thrive and contribute to a growing sustainable economy with access to vital services across education, housing, transport and healthcare. Rural and island communities are also key to our plan to address depopulation, working with people living and working in these communities and who know best how to address local challenges.

“The First Minister will set out his policy and legislative priorities for the remainder of the parliamentary session in due course.”