Humza Yousaf says next general election will be ‘difficult’ for SNP
Mr Yousaf, who as leader of the SNP on Saturday led a special conference on its strategy to break Scotland off from the UK, said independence will be on the first line of the party’s manifesto.
The First Minister 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 would mean Holyrood begins negotiations with Westminster.
But recent polling by PanelBase has predicted the SNP will take 21 of the available 59 Scottish seats at the next election. down from their current 45. while Scottish Labour are predicted to win 26 seats, meaning the SNP could fall short of the majority sought by Mr Yousaf.
Mr Yousaf told the broadcaster on Sunday he thought a referendum was the best way forward, but that it had been blocked, so the next way to test the position was through a general election. Mr Yousaf told the BBC’s Sunday Show: “The party that wins the most seats, of course, wins the general election.”
He said: “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,” she said.
“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”.
“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,” the MSP said.
“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.”