22 July 2023

Yousaf: Even with challenges facing SNP, support for independence is rock solid

22 July 2023

First Minister Humza Yousaf has said support for independence is “rock solid” despite the challenges facing the SNP, as he kicked off a summer of independence tour across Scotland on Saturday.

Mr Yousaf spoke to activists in Dundee as he enjoyed a cycling event in the city’s Camperdown Park.

Speaking to the PA news agency, the First Minister and SNP leader acknowledged the last few weeks and months had been “challenging” for his party, following the controversy around the investigation into alleged irregularities in campaign funding for a second independence referendum.

Mr Yousaf said: “The SNP has had a really challenging few weeks and months, there is no getting away from that, but even with those challenges, support for independence is absolutely rock solid.

“I believe the best decisions about Scotland are made by the people in Scotland.”

Mr Yousaf said: “The next general election, we will fight on the issue of independence front and centre.

“That impasse will be broken by the power of the people.

“That’s why support for independence has to continue to grow.”

Last year the UK Supreme Court ruled that the Scottish Government could not hold a legally binding second referendum on independence without the consent of the UK Government, which has consistently blocked attempts to hold one.

Mr Yousaf added: “As long as the UK Government continue to deny that (independence), what we will do is use the next election to test support for the proposition of independence.”

He was asked what a conversation with the next UK prime minister, whether that be Rishi Sunak or Sir Keir Starmer, would look like.

He said: “The conversation to me is a pretty simple one, it’s listen to the Scottish people, don’t ignore the Scottish people, we’ve put independence front and centre, and give people a right to determine their own future.”

Mr Yousaf was asked if he was confident his party could win the potential Rutherglen by-election, after former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier was convicted of breaching Covid rules and was handed a 30-day suspension from the House of Commons by the standards committee.

The First Minister said: “There’s no getting away from the fact the Rutherglen by-election will be challenging for the SNP. The response has been very positive in terms of the SNP.

“Labour have already taken that seat for granted. They’ve already decided the result before the recall petition is even over.”

He added: “Labour are showing a degree of complacency, I want to see the back of the Tories, I also don’t want to see a Labour majority government.”

The PA news agency asked Mr Yousaf if a negotiation on independence would be easier with a Labour government.

He replied: “I would hope so. The sensible voices in the Labour party would see that you cannot govern in Scotland by ignoring them.

It’s clear that Humza Yousaf doesn’t care if the next government is a Tory government or Labour, this is a shocking admission of how out of touch he is with the people of Scotland

“I would hope they would be more pragmatic about their approach.”

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy MSP said: “The public want the Scottish government to be focused on their real priorities. Rather than this obsession with dragging Scotland out of the UK.

“But in a desperate bid to hold his feuding, scandal-ridden party together, Humza Yousaf is fixated on the only issue that nationalists agree on, to the dismay of the majority of Scots.

“This ‘summer of independence’ is a stark reminder that, for the SNP, trying to break up the UK will always trump everything else.”

Jackie Baillie MSP, deputy leader of  Scottish Labour, said: “Humza Yousaf knows his party is in trouble.

“The SNP have taken the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West for granted for too long.

“Michael Shanks, the Scottish Labour candidate, is taking Labour’s message to the people of the area day in and day out. Change is coming to Scotland whether the SNP like it or not.

“It’s clear that Humza Yousaf doesn’t care if the next government is a Tory government or Labour, this is a shocking admission of how out of touch he is with the people of Scotland.

“Scottish Labour is the change that Scotland needs.”

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