General election will be ‘difficult’ for SNP, concedes Yousaf
Following a special SNP conference on Saturday, Mr Yousaf said independence will be on the first line of the party’s manifesto for the election expected next year.
He told the BBC’s Sunday Show: “This is going to be a tough general election. It’s going to be a difficult general election.
“That’s why I’m going to put the case for independence as that alternative future, that better future, to the people of Scotland, and I’m confident we can win that general election.”
Mr Yousaf said winning a majority of seats at the next election should mean ministers at Holyrood begin negotiations with their Westminster counterparts on achieving independence.
Recent polling by PanelBase has predicted the SNP will take 21 of the 59 Scottish seats at the next election, down from its current 45, while Scottish Labour is forecast to win 26 seats – meaning the nationalists would fall short of the majority sought by Mr Yousaf.
He said a referendum on independence would be the best way forward, but as that has been blocked the next way to test the position is through a general election.
Mr Yousaf told the programme: “The party that wins the most seats, of course, wins the general election.
“I’m not saying to you if we win that general election Scotland suddenly becomes independent.
“What I’m saying to you is that through a democratic, lawful means, we begin negotiation with the UK Government on how to give that proposition democratic effect.”
Dame Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s deputy leader, said: “Humza Yousaf has made it clear – if your priority isn’t a divisive and disruptive referendum, the SNP doesn’t want your vote.
“This is a single-issue party without a coherent plan on how to deliver on their one policy of independence.
“The SNP has turned its back on anyone more concerned with ending the cost-of-living crisis, reviving our economy and rebuilding our public services.”
Meghan Gallacher, deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said Mr Yousaf’s “latest plan to push his independence obsession confirms that he has taken Nicola Sturgeon’s strategy and put it on steroids”.
She added: “At a time when people across Scotland are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and want the SNP-Green Government to focus on their real priorities, Humza Yousaf is typically obsessed with holding another divisive referendum as soon as possible.
“It is clear that the self-styled first activist is talking about his favourite subject to deflect from the chaos engulfing his party and their overwhelming failures during their 16 years in office.
“Whether it was on the health service, their ferry fiasco, the lack of dualling the A9, or the spiralling costs for a replacement Barlinnie, Humza Yousaf had no answers.”